Yesterday I got a call from a pool builder in Southern California who I like and respect a great deal. “I’m glad you picked up the phone,” he said, “because I’m going to go on a rant and I want you to hear it.”
“Rant away,” I replied, curious to hear what was bothering him.
The builder spent the next few minutes recounting numerous examples of contractors and service techs who have put so much emphasis on safety in their marketing materials that the fun of owning a pool is nearly lost among their dire warnings.
“Of course, safety is important,” he said. “But if that’s the message we lead with, who’s going to want to buy a pool?”
He has a point. Recently, I visited the home of an acquaintance, also in SoCal, and spent some time in her back yard. The woman had an older, but very beautiful, pool and I complimented her on the design.
“Sure, it’s nice,” she said, “but that drain really scares me.”
“Drain?” I peered down through 10 feet of water at the single outlet far below us. It was clearly equipped with a modern, anti-entrapment cover. “That can’t hurt you unless the cover’s missing or broken and you swim down there.” I looked at her doubtfully. “Have you been lying on it?”
“What? No! I won’t go near that thing. I don’t even like to swim on that end of the pool, I’ve heard so many horrible stories.”
And there you have it.
While safety should be an integral part of any pool and spa professional’s business, I am in agreement with the builder that, as an industry, we’ve gone too far. Between the messaging from media, the government, various associations and builders, techs and retailers, you would think that pools are death traps and spas are filthy vectors of disease.
It’s time to place a fresh emphasis on all the good our products create in the world. I want that woman, and everyone like her, to feel lucky that they own pools rather than nervous about enjoying them.
It’s great to take precautions. Fences, covers, alarms and proper drain safety are all crucial in preventing a tragedy. But let’s not become an industry that sells fences that happen to have pools behind them.
When people are scared, they won’t buy pools or the wonderful products that make them safe.