Halloween Swimming Pools
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scary-halloween-lifeguardHalloween is on a Friday this year! That means lots of parties!

Northern pool owners are already closed for the season, but southern pool owners are still enjoying their pool through October. Before it officially becomes ‘off-season’, have some fun with a Halloween party.

Here are some spooky décor ideas and Halloween pool activities for all you sunbelt pool owners out there  – there’s still more time to enjoy the fall weather around the pool!

Halloween Décor

1). Pumpkins Galore

halloween-floating-pool-pumpkinsIt’s time to harvest pumpkins in the garden or the multitude of pumpkins at the local pumpkin patch. Floating pumpkins in your pool is a really neat way to decorate the swimming pool. You can carve real pumpkins and place small candles inside so your designs can light up the pool. If you don’t want to use real pumpkins, your local craft store carries an array of plastic pumpkins that will look just as appealing.

2). Party Pool Dye

skeleton-in-poolSwimming pool dye is a fun way to get into the Halloween mood. Whether you choose creepy red or goblin green, swimming pool dye is a terrific way to decorate. Party Pool dye is non-toxic and won’t stain your pool and in 3-5 days the color will filter out, and you’ll be back to a beautiful blue pool.

3). Bubbles and Candles

soap-bubblesAdd laundry soap and point your pool returns at the surface to create a foamy swimming pool. After the party, shock the pool to break up the foam, and run the filter. Decorate the swimming pool with candles to make a magical backyard that is perfect for an outdoor party.

4). Dry Ice

dry-ice-in-poolFor Halloween this year, make a spooky swimming pool with dry ice or fog machines. A foggy atmosphere gives a spooky aurora to the yard. If you put dry ice in the pool, take safety precautions and make sure that no one is swimming. Touching dry ice can cause skin burns.

5). Plexiglass Pool Cover

plexiglass-party-pool-coverIf you want to expand your backyard and create a dance floor or dining area, you might consider having a party rental company install lighted plexiglass panels over the pool, or a stage over water for the band to play, or for a costume contest catwalk. Pricey, yes and a super creative way to transform your pool area into an incredible space for big events.

6). Spider webs, Tombstones and Skeletons

skeleton-in-pool-chair-floatIt’s time to dig out your go-to decorations in in the basement. Don’t be afraid to use the decorations you already have and spice them up with some new décor from the store. Spider webs are a classic decoration that can be placed in bushes and trees surrounding the pool. Get some tombstones and make a creepy scene in a corner.

7). Glowing Hands

glowing-handsNeed some unique lighting ideas in your swimming pool? Get some latex gloves and put a glow stick in each of them. Inflate the gloves and tie them off, and set them afloat. At night it’s really creepy to see glowing, floating hands in the swimming pool.
 

8). Sound Effects/ Halloween Music

halloween-pool-party-musicMusic and sound effects are the perfect way to set the mood for the Halloween season. Sound effects might be good if you are not outside the entire time, otherwise the repetition might get a tad annoying to your guests. There are plenty of Halloween CDs out there for adults and kids that incorporate fun/creepy music. Or, make your own Halloween playlist!

 

Halloween Party Games

1). Dive for Your Pumpkins

dive-for-pumpkinsFor Halloween parties for kids, get a dozen pumpkins and place them in the pool. The kids can swim to their pumpkins that they want to carve. After they carve the pumpkins and it begins to get dark, they can float them in the pool with candles inside, or set them in various places around the pool.

2). Halloween Hunt

halloween-hunt-in-the-poolFor the Halloween hunt, fill some Halloween colored eggs with small toys, hard candy or coins and place them in the pool. Make it a fun competition and let the children race in the swimming pool to get as many eggs as they can. If there are many ages, divide the hunts into age groups.

3). Costume Contest

phelps-swimmer-costumeThe possibilities are endless really…whether you want to be a pirate or Olympic swimmer, a themed costume party is a lot of fun for not only kids but adults as well. At least the party host should dress up! Fortunately adult Halloween costumes are easy to buy, rent or make yourself!

Any boy willing to go shirtless could dress up as Michael Phelps. A great idea for babies that are not swimming is a shark or fish costume. Finding Nemo, anyone?

Whether you throw a Halloween bash or simply transform your yard in spooky décor, make sure you take the time to enjoy the decorating experience and have fun with it. Get family and friends involved, so that this Halloween you can have the coolest pool in town!

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Jaquelynn Pettinato
InTheSwim Staff Blogger

 

Swim Lesson Plans
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learning-to-swim - image purch'd from dreamstimeLearning how to swim is one of life’s most valuable skills, and not only for the benefit of water safety. When you teach a child how to swim, it opens the door to one of the most enjoyable forms of recreation and fitness.

Learn to swim and enjoy water skiing, scuba diving and snorkeling, river rafting and tubing, surfing or playing in the ocean, or joining a competitive swim team. Boating and fishing, and just being around water in general.

Learning to swim provides lifestyle opportunities, but it can also save a child’s life. Growing up with a fear of the water limits recreational choices, and could possibly manifest itself into a deeper phobia of water.

According to the CDC, every day in the U.S., an average of 2 children succumb to drowning, and another 10 are admitted to hospitals in near-drowning incidents. Drowning is the leading cause of accidental death for children aged 1-4, and the second leading cause of death for kids age 1-14.

Drowning is a horrible tragedy, but one that’s avoidable, in most cases. In the words of Olympic swimmer Cullen Jones “Drowning is preventable; two words – Swim Lessons”. However, for small children under 5 years old, complete proficiency is unlikely and should be supplemented with Layers of Protection around the pool, including 4-sided fences, pool alarms and safety covers.

Teaching kids to swim is one of the most important parental responsibilities, just as important as teaching your child to look both ways before crossing the street. As of 2010, 15 European countries had made swim lessons a compulsory part of school curriculum, as reported by the NY Times. Not so in the United States, however – learning to swim is optional.

Let’s assume that because you are reading this article however, that you are already committed to teaching kids how to swim. It may also be assumed that you are reading this article on InTheSwim and therefore probably have a backyard swimming pool, which increases the importance and urgency of teaching your children how to swim.

This article is written for parents who wish to teach their children how to swim – in their own pool. We encourage you to study more about how to teach swimming to children, by also visiting our Recommended Resources listed at the conclusion of this article.

Swim Lesson Planning & Preparation

Teaching kids how to swim requires only a few instruments, first and foremost being a swimming pool. Teaching your child how to swim could be more fun in groups. As you make your annual / seasonal swim lesson plans, spread the word to other parents who may like to join-in.

For Swim Students:

  1. Swimsuit. Take them shopping for their new swimsuit each year, and instruct them never to go swimming without wearing a swimsuit. Teach that swimming in clothes and shoes is unsafe.
  2. Sunscreen. Protect their skin while they are in the pool or on the pool deck. A tight fitting swim shirt or large hat can also be used to protect the skin from too much sun.
  3. Kickboard. For use when learning simple strokes and for kicking exercises, a foam kickboard (not inflatable) can be used in multiple ways during a swim lesson.
  4. Swim Diaper. For those not yet potty trained, a swim diaper, worn over a regular diaper.
  5. Good Health. Delay the lesson if your child has an illness or needs a nap.
  6. Towel. And dry clothing to change into after the lesson is over.

For Swim Teachers:

  1. Swimming Pool. Learning to swim in lakes, streams and oceans can be unsafe, due to deep mud, currents and riptides. A shallow wading pool or ‘baby pool’ is the best place to start, if available. Otherwise, use the shallow end of a pool, preferably with walk-in steps. Aboveground pools or large spas can also be used for teaching toddlers to acclimate to water and learn basic swim skills.
  2. Swimsuit. Set the example of never swimming without a swimsuit. Hat, but no sunglasses.
  3. Enthusiasm. Bring a big smile and a big heart to each swim lesson, with some patience and empathy too!
  4. Swim Lesson Plans. Use a binder that you can stand up, with plastic sheet holders to hold your lesson plan on the edge of the pool. Print our swim lesson plans.
  5. Schedule. Just like other important things, schedule swim lessons for a solid time slot on your calendar. Once or twice per week, for 8-12 weeks could be appropriate.
  6. Pool Noodle. Can be used to provide you added buoyancy, or for kicking and floating drills.

 

SWIM LESSON TIPS:

  • Each swim lesson for infants and toddlers should last only 15 minutes; up to 30 minutes for 3-5 year olds, and up to 45 minutes for children over 5 years old.
  • The ratio of swim teacher to swim student should be 1:1 for children under 5 who have not reached swim stroke and treading water proficiency.
  • Slow and steady. There is no time limit on progressing from one swim level to the next. Some children will take longer on certain levels, and swim lessons may need to repeated, perhaps several times, until the swim student can confidently progress to the next level. Stay positive, and encourage the swim student toward short term objectives and long term goals.
  • Maintain arm’s length distance at all times during swim lessons and constant focus on the swim student. Don’t allow any distractions whenever a child is around the pool.
  • 82 degrees or warmer is most suitable for teaching kids how to swim. Colder pool water will detract from their ability to learn to swim.
  • Using a USCG approved foam life vest may be helpful at other times, but not during the swim lesson. Likewise, don’t use water wings, or ‘swimmies’, because they interfere with proper swim movements, and allow for bad stroke development. Using floatation devices will under-utilize key muscle groups needed for swimming and could also provide a false sense of security.
  • Feed your swim student 1 hour before the lesson, and give fluids after the lesson.

 

SWIM COLLEGE: Ability-Based Swim Lesson Plans

SWIM COLLEGE is not an actual organization, and this curriculum is offered as a generalized outline of possible swim lesson plans. Our swim lessons should be considered a class syllabus only, more instructor study is prudent before beginning an in-home swim training program.

SWIM COLLEGE curriculum is not based on age, but rather on ability, no matter if infant, toddler, pre-school age or much older, the same basic progression is used. In the early years, you may need to repeat previous swim lesson plans as a refresher, and to re-acclimate to the water.

SWIM COLLEGE is arranged as a 4-year curriculum, but students are encouraged to do post-graduate work and continue studying each summer for a total of 6+ years. Swim students can begin at any age, but if possible start between the ages of 12-24 months. Plan each season’s swim lessons for 8-12 weeks, once or twice per week.

For teaching toddlers how to swim, parents may consider professional swim instruction by a qualified instructor, when available. Most municipal and educational pools offer swim classes for kids, or you can search for a local swim instructor at swimlessons.com.

Begin each swim lesson with some safety training, and give reminders and praise for the safe swimmer throughout a lesson. Spend as much time as is needed on each section before moving into more advanced skills. Some swimming skills will take longer than others – be patient and encouraging towards small objectives and larger goals.

And finally, have fun, and let your student have fun too. :-)         

 

bluecrossSWIMMING 101:

Safety Rules

Every swim lesson should have a pool safety component. In the early years, pool safety should focus on definitive rules such as no swimming alone, no swimming without a bathing suit, stay in the shallow end. As a young swimmer develops greater awareness, more advanced pool safety education should be taught, and reviewed annually.

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Installing a Nature2 Express Mineral Purifier
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nature2-express2Nature² is a popular purifier, a completely natural, mineral-based sanitizer. It has proven itself a useful supplement to chlorine that many pool owners have come to rely on and enjoy.

However, this blog is not to sing the praises of the mineral purification, but rather to help answer installation questions or concerns. Easy!

The beauty of the Nature2 Express is that you only need 4″ of pipe, No plumbing involved! A drill is all that’s needed – even the drill bit is included!

The compact Nature 2 Express is for above ground or in ground pools, with a horizontal installation on the pool return line – on the pipe after the filter; before or after any pool heater, and before any chlorinator.

The Nature2 includes the entire saddle clamp assembly with gaskets and stainless steel hardware, lubricant and drill bit You only need a cordless or electric drill!

nature2-installation

  • Installing the Nature² Express

Before installing the Nature2 Cartridge, we must first make sure the pool water is balanced. The following chart serves as a checklist of what the conditions of the pool should be before installation.

pH level 7.4 – 7.8
Calcium Hardness 200 – 400 ppm
Total Alkalinity 80 – 150 ppm


LOCATION:
Next you will want to pinpoint the location of the return line to install the clamp. A clear stretch of pipe, of about 6 inches is best. Now turn off the pool pump and close all valves. There is a degree of freedom for just where to place and install the Nature 2 vessel, as long as it is installed after the filter on the main return.

nature2-saddle-clamp-assy ASSEMBLY: Choose the saddle clamp assembly that can fit the size piping on your return line. Assemble the two clamp halves around the pipe and loosely tighten up the screws with a Philips screwdriver. Be sure the clamp assembly is positioned with the arrow pointing in the direction of the water flow.

DRILL-THE-PIPEDRILL: Insert the hole saw into a drill. Use the hole in the top half of the assembly as a guide and drill a hole in the pipe. Tighten up the screws for the saddle clamp tightly. Insert the flow diverter into the clamp assembly and simply snap into place. Snap outer housing into the clamp assembly.

nature2-saddle-clamp-lubricate-gasketLUBE: Spread the silicone around the o-ring above the cartridge threads, and thread the Nature2 Express cartridge into the clamp assembly. You can set the date reminder on the cap.

START UP: The Nature2 cartridge requires that the pool be shocked – or at least chlorinated above 2 ppm, for an initialization period of 100 hours. During this break-in period, the chlorine level must be at least 2.0 ppm.

cheap-pool-shockThe fast way to initialize the cartridge is with pool shock, following label instructions, and then run the pump 24 hrs/day for 4 days. Check the chlorine level during the 4 days, to maintain the level at a minimum of 2.0 ppm. After the 100 hour cartridge initialization, the chlorine level can be lowered and maintained at 0.5 ppm.

  • Replacing the 6 month cartridge

  1. Shut off pool filter and pump
  2. Close any valves from the pool to the filter if system is below water level
  3. Unscrew and remove old cartridge
  4. Screw new cartridge into housing and clamp assembly
  5. Open valves that were closed, restart pool pump
  6. Run the pump 24 hrs/day for 4 days, with chlorine level above 2ppm
  • Winterizing the Nature² Express

If you close the pool in the winter, the Nature² Express is self draining, and no special procedures are required. When it is time to reopen the pool all you do is screw in a new Nature2 Express cartridge. Balance and shock the pool, and run the pump for 4 days (which you are doing anyway in spring).

  • Troubleshooting the Nature² Express

If you have no flow to the Nature2 Express, you likely have a dirty pool filter or some other flow problems. Nature2 works best with flow rates from 25-80 gpm. If the vessel starts to leak, re-lube the gasket and cartridge o-ring and make sure the nuts and bolts are tight but at the same time, not over-tight.

Other than that, there really is no maintenance or troubleshooting of Nature2 Express mineral purifiers. They are simple, and simply brilliant! nature2-express-and-cartridge

Cut your chlorine use in half with a Nature2 Express, and use the power of copper and silver minerals to purify your pool water, by naturally removing up to 99% of pool water contaminants!

Now that was easy!

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Alex Malamos
InTheSwim Staff Blogger

 

Off-Season Care for the Sunbelt Pool
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winter-pool-in-dallas-texasIf you live in an area where you don’t winterize the pool, but don’t use the pool during winter – you are by my estimate, about 35% of the pool owners in the U.S….

You still need to run the filter everyday, and maintain good pH and chlorine levels. Black  algae can grow in a winter pool, taking advantage of the situation (dirty pool, low chlorine, little filtering).

Salt Chlorinators in Winter

If you didn’t know, you may be surprised to know that salt systems don’t produce chlorine when the water temperature gets too cold. It’s not that they can’t, but it’s very inefficient, and strains the salt cell. For this reason, many manufacturers have a fault built-in, to shut off the chlorine production at water temperatures below 60°.

pool chlorine types, pool chlorine tablets or trichlor tabsSo, what’s a salt pool owner to do? Use other forms of chlorine, the best being 3″ chlorine tablets, used in a chlorinator or in a floater. You may also want to shock the pool during winter, using Cal Hypo, or Di Chlor, which is stabilized, to last longer in an uncovered pool.

Pool Filtering during WinterHOW-LONG-DO-I-NEED-TO-RUN-MY-POOL-PUMP-EACH-DAY

As the water temperature drops, water clarity can be maintained with less filtering, and less sanitizer. At water temperatures below 60 degrees, algae can still grow, or particulate matter can make the water cloudy, but as the water cools into the fifties, very little is happening.

At water temperatures of 70°F, run the filter at least 8-10 hours daily, to ensure a full turnover – that is, all the water in the pool having passed through the filter and returned to the pool. As the water cools to 60°, you can cut back filtering further, to save energy – but pay attention to the weather reports for frost warnings!

Pumps On in Freezing Temps!

snowflakeJust about every part of the U.S. gets freezing temperatures at one point or another. For a large part of the south, there is usually a period of a few weeks, or sometimes several periods, where night time (and day time) temperatures dip below the freezing mark.

During freezing temperatures, the pump must be running, and all lines (valves) should be open to keep water moving through the pipes and equipment. Fountains, slide water or water features should also be running, at least on low speed.

Intermatic makes a digital timeclock PE153PF that includes freeze protection. An air temperature sensor can turn on your pump when temperatures get close to freezing.

danger-ice-unsafeOr, you can run the pump at night during winter, and run it 24/7 for those periods where freezing is possible. If you’re too chintzy with electricity, a cold snap could cause major damage to pumps, filters, heaters and pipes – when air temps reach 32°, and water is not moving, severe damage could occur in less than an hour.

If you have a power outage from an ice storm, or during freezing temperatures; high tail it out to the pool equipment pad and pull the drain plugs on the pump, filter, heater, etc, and shut the power off at the breaker. Lay heavy blankets over the equipment to hold in any heat. When power is restored, quickly tighten drain plugs, prime pump and start up the system again.

Covering the Winter Pool

If your pool is a simple shape and size, covering it during winter with a safety pool cover could be an economical convenience for the sunbelt pool.

  • Looks great with a tight, snug fit.safety-covers-for-pools
  • Safety cover protects kids and animals.
  • Durable covers have a 12 year warranty.
  • Covered pools need less filtering and sanitizer.

 

There you have it sunbelters – a few things to consider while you are sipping your tall daiquiris in the sun all winter long! Take care of your pool this winter, and avoid the dreaded black algae, damage to your pool surfaces and expensive repair bills from frozen pool equipment.

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Davy Merino
InTheSwim Blog Editor