Generally speaking, there are five types of pool covers that are available, and not all of them are classified as safety covers. These include automatic or manual safety covers with tracks; spring-loaded ASTM solid safety covers; springloaded ASTM mesh safety covers; solid, lightweight fabric covers; and solar blankets.
Automatic or manual safety covers with tracks are able to withstand the weight of several people at once. Because the cover is secured with tracks, it totally blocks access to the water, and in some locations, can be used in place of a fence, depending on local ordinances.
Spring-loaded safety covers are some of the more common types of covers today. Resembling a trampoline, spring-loaded straps connect to the cover and are anchored into the deck concrete to hold the cover in place. The fabric of the cover may be mesh or solid vinyl. Both are able to keep children as well as most leaves and debris out of the water, but the solid cover also keeps water out of the pool, making the water a little cleaner when the pool is opened for the season.
A true safety cover should meet the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) standard F1346-91. The ASTM is a globally recognized leader in the development and delivery of international voluntary consensus standards. It provides the testing methods and specifications for materials and practices worldwide to improve product quality and enhance safety.
The ASTM provides strict guidelines for qualifying safety covers. By code, the safety cover must be designed to prevent a small child (under the age of 5) from entering a pool. The cover must also prevent water from accumulating on its surface, thereby preventing a different drowning hazard.
There are detailed specifications that a safety cover must meet to qualify as a safety cover by the ASTM. These include but are not limited to:
• The material of the safety cover itself must not be harmful to health.
• The materials must be durable for application.
• The cover should be fabricated according to generally accepted, good manufacturing practices.
• Detailed installation instructions must be provided attached to the cover, unless installed by the manufacturer.
• The cover must be labeled with: the manufacturers name, the date manufactured and installed, instructions to the consumer for preliminary inspection, and multiple specific warning labels with specific color, font style, case and size, as well as placement requirements.
• The cover must include a life expectancy label.
• The attachment or fastening mechanism of the cover must be sufficiently difficult to prohibit children under 5 years old from removing and/or operating the cover.
• The cover must be designed so that the opening between the cover and the top of the pool will restrict the passage and is strong enough to prevent the forced opening of a specific test object.
• For pools with a diameter of greater than 8 feet, the cover can sustain a static load of no less than 485 pounds to permit a rescue operation.
• The cover must be constructed or have an auxiliary system in place that will drain all standing water from the cover within 30 minutes of the cessation of rainfall.
Pictured left: ASTM pool cover by Katchakid Pool Safety. Pictured right: Latham’s automatic retractable pool covers.