Pools can be death traps, warns Saugerties official

(Julien Haler - flickr)

(Julien Haler – flickr)

With summer heat indices reaching past the 90-degree mark, many local families have been grabbing up backyard swimming pools for low prices. Eyal Saad, village of Saugerties code enforcement officer, says these pools are a great way to keep the kids cool during the dog days of summer. But if parents don’t follow state law, he warns, these oases of relief can become death traps for youngsters.

Two cases in Saugerties illustrate his point. One involved a young girl who got into a pool and was found lying at its bottom. Pulled out, she was revived. The tale ended well. She’s now a healthy, accomplished young woman about to enter her teens.

The second story didn’t end the same way. A one-year-old fell into a pool and was found lying at the bottom. That child was unable to be revived, Saad said.


“That’s why I am patrolling the village looking for pools whose owners are not following state law,” Saad explained. “I do not want to see us lose any more youngsters in pool incidents.”

State law requires that pools that hold at least 24 inches of water must have a fence of at least 48 inches in height, with a self-closing, self-latching gate that can be locked with a childproof lock when the pool is not in use. The gate must also have an alarm to warn that someone is trying to access the pool.

Any ladder that goes into the pool must have a barrier around it or be removable when no one is using the pool.

The pool must have a surface alarm that warns if someone has gotten into the pool. Additionally, anyone putting in one of these above-ground pools must have a building permit from the village building department.

“I’ve been driving around the village and seen a number of these types of above-ground pools,” Saad said. Those who have not gotten a building permit or have not installed the necessary safety equipment will receive a letter telling them what they need to do to comply with state law. If they still don’t install safety equipment, Saad said he will issue a citation answerable in the village court.

“It’s just common sense to put this equipment around the pool,” he said. He is critical of those who claim they didn’t know about the law. It clearly states in the packaging that the owner must comply with state and local laws when putting the pool up.

“We just want it to be safe for our kids,” Saad said.