It seems as if we have finally thawed out and summer is officially upon us. Many of us have forgotten about those frigid days of winter, and have moved on to complaining about the summer heat.

As we begin to look for ways to avoid those hot and humid days, many decide to invest in a swimming pool as a way to keep cool throughout the summer months.Whether purchasing an elaborate in-ground swimming pool or just a simple inflatable pool that you can take home and set up within a couple of hours, there are some very important things to keep in mind.Pool safety is extremely important, especially in neighborhoods where homes and yards are located very close to one another.

The Department of Planning & Community Development has begun to see many permit applications for new swimming pools. It isa requirement that we review these plans for pool construction to ensure proper safety measures are in place.

We are also receiving several complaints about swimming pools popping up without the appropriate safety measures in place. These complaints come into our office for a good reason.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drowning is responsible for more deaths among children ages 1-4 than any other cause except birth defects. Most of those deaths occur in home swimming pools.

The State of Indiana has specific requirements regarding residential swimming pools to create a safer environment for these children, and those requirements can also be found in Section153.014B of the Crawfordsville Zoning Code.

For the purposes of our ordinance, a swimming pool is defined as having the same meaning set forth in the Indiana Code, but does not include "kiddie pools"with a wall height that does not exceed two feet and are easily dumped after each use.

A private residential swimming pool is permitted, provided that access to the pool is restricted by one of the following means:

1. Walls or fencing not less than five feet.high and completely surrounding the pool and deck area with the exception of self-closing and latching gates or doors, each capable of being locked.

2. 2. Other means not less than five feet high,and deemed impenetrable at the time of construction and completely surrounding the pool and deck area when the pool is not in use.

3. A combination of one and two that completely surrounds the pool and deck with the exception of self-closing and latching gates or doors, which are capable of being locked.

4. 4. A power safety pool cover, typically used for in-ground pools, provided that it provides a continuous connection between the cover and deck to prevent access when the cover is completely drawn over the pool, must be operated with a key, and satisfies the requirements of a power safety pool cover.

Please consider these very important safety requirements before purchasing and installing a pool this summer.If your pool has walls two feet or taller and does not have one of these safety measures in place, the property is in violation and the property owner could potentially face fines.These pool safety rules are the minimum required by our zoning ordinance, however accidents can still happen. If you have already installed your pool to the standards,there are plenty of other great pool safety tips out there to help prevent unnecessary injuries or worse. We would be happy to answer any questions you might have regarding this information. Feel free to stop in the office, or give us a call at 364-5152. We are available Monday through Friday 8 a.m.-12 p.m. and 1p.m.-4 p.m. Happy Swimming!

Brandy Allen is the City of Crawfordsville's planning director.