3 Steps to Throw the Best 4th of July Barbecue

How to Throw a 4th of July Barbecue

The 4th of July is just around the corner! At the midpoint of summer, Independence Day is the perfect day for barbecues and outdoor parties. Why not invite your friends, family, and all the neighbors over for a big bash in the backyard to celebrate the season? 

You don’t have to have the biggest backyard or the fanciest setup to have a great time on July 4th. And we’ve got the scoop on all the best ways to make sure your bash is the one the neighborhood is talking about for years to come. Keep reading for our ultimate guide on throwing the best 4th of July barbecue in 3 easy steps. 

Step One – Prep the Yard

Before you can plan anything else for your 4th of July barbecue, you’ll need to make sure you have plenty of space for the party! Get the scene set up with the following items so your guests will have a place to mingle.

Patio Furniture

Your guests will need a place to sit! If you don’t already have a dining or conversation patio set, now would be a great time to make some updates. A couple of chairs, a coffee or dining table, and a patio umbrella are a great start to keep your outdoor area party-ready. 

Shade

Speaking of an umbrella, make sure your patio has adequate shade. If you’re barbecuing while the sun is still out in the evening, the heat can be brutal. Use umbrellas, a pergola, or other shade structures to keep you and your guests cool and protected from the sun.

Comfort 

Lay out some throw pillows and finish up your patio area with a cozy outdoor rug! It will add color and comfort to your party area so your guests can relax in style. And don’t forget the insect repellent! A citronella candle, bug spray, or repellent tiki torches will make your party area much more comfortable for everyone involved.

Pool

If you have a pool, make sure you prep it for your company. Check your water levels and add water if necessary to keep your pool in top shape. Check the chemical levels, as well, and adjust accordingly if readings are too low or too high. Too much chlorine or not enough will make an unpleasant swimming experience for your guests. If the water looks cloudy, you may want to shock your pool or treat it for algae as well.

Lights

Once it gets dark, fireworks and sparklers won’t be enough to light up your backyard for your guests. Keep the party going with colorful lanterns or outdoor lights to add a cozy glow to your backyard. Candles or torches can also add a cozy aesthetic to the night hours.

Grill

Your grill should be the centerpiece of your 4th of July barbecue! Make sure you’ve properly cleaned and prepped your grill– it’s going to get a lot of use feeding all of your hungry guests! Oil up the grates to keep food from sticking and make sure you have enough charcoal or propane to keep the fire burning until everyone is full! 

Step Two – Prepare the Menu

With your entertainment space prepped and the grill fired up, it’s time to make sure your guests are fed! Last year we rounded up all of our top favorite summer barbecue recipes, so check out that blog for a great place to start building your menu.

However, if you’re looking for a couple more themed dishes, take a look at our top 4th of July picks below!

Top Burger

If you want to get really creative, your guests will love this American Flag-themed burger! Use cucumber, ketchup, and mayo to create the stars and stripes of the American Flag on the patty for a social media-worthy dish! 

Top Hot Dog

They’re not traditional hot dogs by any  means, but these cute Firecracker Dogs are sure to be a hit with kids and adults alike! Topped with stars made of cheese and wrapped in a spiral bun, these dogs will shine like sparklers! (But they’re definitely way tastier.) 

Top Beverages

If you’re looking for a red, white, and boozy-themed cocktail, try this delicious layered cocktail that will wow your guests. It takes a little bit of finesse to pour to get the layers right, but with some practice you’ll be slinging patriotic drinks all night. 

If you’d rather have an alcohol-free option, this Berry Splash mocktail uses cherry drink mix, cranberry juice, and blueberries as a garnish for a delicious drink the whole family can enjoy. 

Top Side

Gelatin Salad may be considered more of a dessert than a side dish, but we couldn’t resist putting it on this list! Just look at how cute this red, white, and blue gelatin dish is! You’ll be the hit of the block party with this on your menu. 

Top Dessert

For a more classic dessert, try these Mini Pie Bites decorated to look like the flag! They’re fruity, delicious, filling, and best of all, simple to make! 

Step Three – Things to Do

And with the stage set, and the menu determined, it’s time to figure out the entertainment! Of course, if you have a local fireworks display, you’ll probably break to watch that at some point. But if you’re going to make the 4th of July barbecue an all-day affair, you’ll need plenty of activities to keep your guests entertained. Here’s our list of favorites that will be a hit with guests of all ages.

Cornhole/Hillbilly Golf

You can’t go wrong with a little bit of competition! Whether you have cornhole boards and beanbags, or some PVC frames and golf balls on string, the mechanics are the same: split into teams of two and see which team has the superior aim and skills! If you’re looking to DIY some games, here’s how you can make a cornhole set or a hillbilly golf course.

Sparklers

What would the 4th of July be without sparklers? Grab a package or two and light up the backyard with twinkling lights! For the littlest guests, red, white, and blue glow sticks can be a safer option to still participate in the fun.

Swimming

If your backyard is home to a pool, tell your guests to bring their suits and make a splash! Just be sure to have an adult supervising the pool at all times, and that everyone taking part is a strong swimmer, or has a regulation life vest available. Safety first! 

Water Balloons

For backyards without a pool, you can still have some splashing fun at your 4th of July barbecue! Fill up water balloons and have a full-out water balloon war!  Kids vs. adults, Family vs. Family, or everyone for themselves! Bring a dry change of clothes for later and let the water balloon war begin!

Have a Happy 4th of July Barbecue! 

Cincinnati Pool and Patio is your 4th of July barbecue expert! For grilling tips and accessories or pool maintenance, our service professionals are always ready to help. Visit our store for your last-minute 4th of July shopping, or get in touch with us today to schedule your pool service. 

Best Places to Get Swimming Lessons in Cincinnati in 2022

Swimming lessons in cincinnati

Summer is just around the corner. The weather is heating up and pools are starting to open. Going for a relaxing swim to cool off has never sounded better. However, are you confident in your swimming skills? What about your kids? Would you be able to prevent yourself or your child from drowning? It might be time to look into swimming lessons in Cincinnati.

According to a survey by the American Red Cross in 2014, 54% of all Americans either don’t know how to swim or don’t have all of the basic swimming skills. This frightening statistic means that over half of the population might not be able to prevent themselves or their children from drowning. In the same survey, only 40% of parents of children ages 4-17 report that their child can perform all five of the basic swimming skills. Essential swimming skills include being able to enter the water and resurface without assistance, controlling breathing, floating, turning, and moving to safety in the water and exiting the water.

Learning to swim and knowledge of basic water safety are imperative if you or your children are going to be around the pool this summer. Fortunately, it is never too early or too late to learn to swim. Many places in Cincinnati offer swimming lessons for babies, children, teens, and adults. And best of all, some of them are free. Read on to learn where you or your child can learn to swim in Cincinnati this summer.

Free Swimming Lessons in Cincinnati

People may not seek out swimming lessons for themselves or their kids because they’re under the impression that lessons might be too expensive. This is not the case. There are several programs in Cincinnati that offer free swimming lessons to people of all ages.

The Cincinnati Recreation Commission has partnered with the American Red Cross for its annual “I CAN SWIM!” program. This program is designed to help swimmers of all ages begin, develop, and refine swimming skills, regardless of their ability to pay. The I CAN SWIM program is dedicated to the memory of 10-year-old Cameron Jeff and his 8-year-old brother Bryce, who tragically drowned in a neighbor’s backyard pool because they were unable to swim. This program honors their memory by teaching kids and adults to swim in an effort to prevent more drowning deaths.

I CAN SWIM opened their registration for 2022 on May 2nd, and sessions begin in June. Session 1 is from June 13th-July 9th, and Session 2 is from July 11th-August 6th. They offer 3 levels of lessons: Parent & Child (Ages 6 months-3 years), Levels 1-5 (Ages 4 years-17 years), and Adult & Senior lessons for anyone 18 or older.

Ziegler Park also offers free swim lessons as part of the P&G EverybodyIn program. Registration for 2022 is open now, and sessions begin on June 6th. Ziegler Park offers lessons for all levels and ages, including Toddler & Parent lessons, Beginner Child Lessons, Intermediate Child Lessons, and Adult Lessons.

Swim Lessons at Membership Locations

Several membership organizations, such as health clubs, offer swimming lessons for free or for a reduced fee for people who subscribe to a membership. These class sizes may be smaller than free lessons, but it will depend on the location and type of membership.

The YMCA of Greater Cincinnati offers swimming lessons to members year-round. These lessons are delivered in sessions that last 6 weeks and are offered for multiple swimming levels and age ranges. The cost for a 6-week session for YMCA members is $60 per swimmer. Lessons are available at several branches of the YMCA. Session 4 is accepting registration now and will last from May 15th-June 25th, and session 5 opens for registration on June 5th and will span from June 26th-August 6th.

TriHealth also offers reduced-cost swim lessons for members of all ages. For $75, members can enroll their children in Aquababies (Ages 6 months-3 years) or Preschool Lessons (Ages 3 years-5 years). Members can also enroll in adult swim lessons. You can inquire about the next session of TriHealth classes on the TriHealth website.

Coney Island offers 4-week swim lesson sessions for season pass holders at several different levels. They offer classes for infants starting at 6 months of age, up through beginner, intermediate, and advanced lessons for older children. Sessions begin on June 6th, with registration fees due by June 1st.

Paid/Open to the Public Swimming Lessons

Finally, a number of organizations offer paid swim lessons to members of the community. From the previous section, the YMCA and TriHealth offer lessons to general community members without memberships, for a higher cost. The YMCA lessons are $120 for community members, and TriHealth is $100 for community members.

The Goldfish Swim School has locations in Anderson and West Chester and is well-known for its wide variety of lessons for children under 12. They have small class sizes, with a 4:1 student to instructor ratio for individualized, dedicated instruction. Classes are offered year-round with flexible time slots to fit into busy schedules.

The British Swim School also offers paid lessons for children at its three locations in Crestview Hills, KY, Cincinnati, and Springdale. Children as young as 3 months can get familiar with the water in classes of 6 or fewer students. The British Swim School also offers courses for adults at select locations and courses for students with disabilities.

Swim Safely, Cincinnati

Swimming is a fantastic summer pastime in Cincinnati, but it’s important to know how to do so safely. With the wide variety of swim lessons available to the public in Cincinnati, children and adults alike can master the water in a few short weeks. We hope our list was helpful for you and your family, and that you can take advantage of the 2022 summer offerings.

Once your family is swim-ready, you might consider adding your very own pool to your backyard. After all, practice makes perfect! Get in touch with our pool installation experts if you’ve been thinking about installing a pool in the future. We’d be more than happy to go over estimates and installation timetables with you.

3 Best Strategies to Reduce Chlorine Usage in your Pool

Reduce Chlorine Usage

The chlorine shortage is still affecting pool owners. How can you reduce chlorine usage to make your supply last longer?

The summer season is almost here! Warmer weather is just on the horizon, which also means it’s almost swimming season! You’re likely dreaming of the day when you can open your pool and take a nice, refreshing dip. However, three years after a catastrophic chlorine plant fire, and two years after the COVID-19 pandemic began, the pool maintenance landscape looks quite different this year.

Chlorine is still hard to find these days, thanks to the plant fire and increased pool construction during the pandemic. Because of this shortage, chlorine prices have also risen in the last few years. As with other products facing similar shortages, the future of chlorine prices looks bleak. In fact, the price of chlorine has increased two to three times over the last two seasons. And it will continue to rise for the foreseeable future.

So, what can pool owners do to combat this shortage? If there’s not enough chlorine to go around, how can you make your supply last? How do you stretch your money to get the most bang for your buck? You want your pool to stay clean so you can swim all summer long, but you aren’t sure what to do next.

Fear not, swimmers. There are several ways you can reduce chlorine usage to make your limited supply last longer. With the following alternative sanitation methods, you can reduce the amount of chlorine your pool needs to stay clean. Read on for our top suggestions by our very own pool professionals.

Mineral Cartridges

The first way you can reduce chlorine usage in your pool is by supplementing with mineral cartridges. Drop-in mineral cartridges contain minerals, such as copper and silver, that sanitize pool water. These minerals prevent bacteria and algae from forming in the water. Some mineral products can also maintain a stable pH level in the water. It just depends on which minerals are present in the kit.

Using a mineral cartridge can drastically reduce the amount of chlorine your pool needs to stay clean. For under $100, you can reduce the chlorine in your pool up to 50%. Most pools require 2-3ppm (parts-per-million) of chlorine. With an added mineral system, your pool will only need 1ppm of chlorine to adequately sanitize the water.

There are a few products available that you can use to dispense minerals into your pool. There are in-skimmer mineral systems, which use a dispenser that is placed into your skimmer basket. Another option is floating dispensers. These dispensers disperse minerals and chlorine as it floats freely in the pool water. The third option is to use an inline mineral system that connects to your pool plumbing system. This option is a little more involved with the installation, but it can be used with most existing plumbing systems.

Algae Preventative

The less algae in your pool, the less chlorine you will have to use. Keeping on top of algae prevention is the second way to reduce chlorine usage. There are a few different methods to prevent algae growth in your pool. You can use algaecide regularly when your pool is clean to prevent algae spores from becoming full-on blooms. Algae spores are carried by the wind and can easily make their home in your pool, so preventing them from growing is the best way to reduce their effects.

You can also use a pool balancer or conditioner to help reduce algae growth and keep your existing chlorine at maximum effectiveness. Pool conditioner helps prevent chlorine from dissipating in the sun’s UV rays. The more effective your chlorine is, the less algae will grow. And the less algae you have, the less you must add chlorine back into your pool to sanitize it. Conditioning your pool is a once-a-year treatment method, so it is cost-effective too.

Test Balance Frequently

The final method to reduce your chlorine consumption is to stay on top of the balance of chemicals in your water. The better your water balance, the less chlorine you will need. Use testing strips regularly to test the pH and other chemical levels in your pool. Based on your results, add other chemical treatments as needed to keep the pH at an optimal balance.

Your pool’s pH level measures how acidic or alkaline your pool water is. pH is measured on a scale from 1 to 14, with lower numbers being more acidic, and higher numbers being more alkaline. If your water is too far to either end, it can cause problems. Keeping your pH at an optimal level can reduce your chlorine needs. For example, a pool with a pH of 8.5 requires 100% more chlorine than a pool balanced to a pH of 7.5.

Benefits of Reduced Chlorine

In addition to saving money and preserving your chlorine supplies, there are several other benefits to reducing your chlorine usage.

Chlorine is an irritant. It dries out the moisture in your skin after swimming and can dull the fabric of your swimsuit. It causes red, irritated eyes if you open your eyes underwater for too long. Chlorine is also harsh, making water harder and less pleasant to swim in if the concentration is too high.

Using the above methods to reduce chlorine usage in your pool helps alleviate these symptoms. Your water will be softer, and skin and eye irritation will be reduced. Overall, using less chlorine will improve the swimming experience.

Bottom Line

The chlorine shortage of the last few years has greatly affected how pool owners maintain their swimming pools. In general, what it takes to own a pool has changed over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our expert service team is always available to answer questions and to help find the right products for your pool. If you’re unsure of how to best maintain your pool, give us a call.

Cincinnati Pool and Patio has been serving Cincinnati homeowners since 1966. Our expert service team is always available to answer questions and help you find the right products for your pool. We can navigate this chlorine shortage and these uncertain times together. Visit our store or get in touch with us today if you have questions or need recommendations.

The Ultimate Grill Maintenance Guide: 2 Processes for Gas and Charcoal Grill Maintenance

Grill Maintenance Guide

Warmer weather is just on the horizon. This means the return of barbecues and cookouts with your favorite backyard accessory—the grill! My mouth is watering right now, just thinking about it!

Chances are, you haven’t thought about grill maintenance since the end of last summer. It’s not fun to grill in the snow and ice in the dead of winter, after all. Has your grill been sitting untouched for months? You’ll need to give it a thorough once-over and a good cleaning before you invite the neighbors over for burgers. Throughout the season, it’s also a good idea to keep up with regular grill cleaning and maintenance. This way your grill will stay in top shape all year long.

Whether you have a gas grill or a charcoal grill, this is your complete guide to cleaning and maintaining your grill all year long. Read on for the differences between the two grills and our comprehensive list of cleaning practices.

Gas Grill Maintenance

Gas grills use propane or natural gas as a fuel source. They are more expensive than charcoal grills, but they are easier to clean, maintain, and are faster to cook with. But just because they’re easier to maintain than charcoal doesn’t mean they don’t require any maintenance!

Pre-Season Cleaning and Check

If your gas grill has been in storage for the winter, take it out and inspect it thoroughly. Remove any spiderwebs or other insects that might have made their home inside the lid or grates.

If you didn’t clean off your grill before storing it, give it a good scrub before firing it up for the first time. Use a new, wire grill brush to brush off any debris from the grates. If your grill is extremely dirty, you’ll want to give it a thorough cleaning. If your grill grates and barrier are made of aluminum, you can remove them to soak them in hot, soapy water to remove dirt and baked-on food. Make sure everything is fully dry and back in place before you fire it up.

For cast-iron grates, the cleaning method will be different. Cast iron can rust if the grates are not dried properly. Instead, heat up the grill for 15-20 minutes to burn off any residue that is stuck to the grates. If anything is left over, use your grill brush to scrub the remaining residue off.

Next, check the hose for leaks. Connect the propane tank, turn on the valve, and then spritz the hose with a mixture of water and dish soap. The hose could have a leak if bubbling occurs.

Regular Cleaning/Maintenance

Regular cleaning and maintenance throughout the season are the keys to keeping your gas grill in top shape. Each time you fire up your grill, follow these steps to get the best possible experience:

  • Pre-heat the grill for 10-15 minutes. This will loosen food debris that could be stuck to the grates.
  • Use your wire grill brush to brush debris off the grates.
  • Empty the drip tray.
  • Regularly check the inside of your lid for carbon buildup. Brush off any flakes that have accumulated.

End of Season Cleaning and Check

If you’re planning to put your gas grill away for the winter, your end-of-season maintenance will look very similar to your pre-season maintenance. Scrub any residue from the grates with your grill brush. Then you can thoroughly clean your grates with the method that best fits your grate material. Either remove aluminum grates and the drip tray to soak in warm, soapy water or pre-heat and scrub tough debris from cast-iron grates. Brush out the interior of the grill to remove any residue, as well.

Before packing your grill away for the winter, you should inspect the burners to make sure they aren’t clogged. With the grates removed, turn on your gas grill and watch the flames that come from the burners carefully. If the flames are uneven, your burners need to be cleaned. Turn off the grill and let it cool completely before removing the burners. You can then use a pipe cleaner or small, wire brush to clean the ports along the side of the burners. Gently tap them on the ground to remove debris from inside the burner.

You should also wash the exterior of your grill before putting it away for the winter. Once everything is thoroughly dry, reassemble your grill, disconnect the gas supply, and store the grill under a cover in a cool, dry place until the next grilling season. And don’t forget to store your propane tank separately in a safe, ventilated area!

Charcoal Grill Maintenance

Charcoal grills, just like the name sounds, use charcoal as a fuel source instead of a gas like propane. They tend to be less expensive than gas grills, and some grill enthusiasts will say the food will taste better when cooked with a charcoal grill. They do tend to take longer to heat up and temperature control is more finicky. However, if you have the patience, owning a charcoal grill can be rewarding. But you still have regular maintenance tasks to perform each season to keep your charcoal grill in top shape.

Pre-Season Cleaning and Check

Bring your charcoal grill out from storage at the beginning of the season and inspect it for debris. If your grill was put away dirty at the end of last season, this is where things will start to differ from the gas grill pre-season maintenance.

Build a fire in your grill and let it burn for about a half-hour. This will bake off any gunk stuck to the grates or inside of the grill. Use your wire grill brush and a scraper to remove any remaining debris off the grates. Turn off your grill and let it cool completely before giving it another, thorough brushing and scraping.

If your grill grates are made of aluminum, you may also want to soak them in warm, soapy water for a couple of hours. While the grates are soaking, wash the inside of the lid and bowl with soapy water and a sponge. Rinse everything thoroughly and reassemble your grill.

Finally, before firing up your grill to cook for the first time this season, you’ll want to grease the grates with vegetable or olive oil to prevent food from sticking to the grates. You could also use bacon fat or cooking spray. Just be sure to do this while the grill is cool so that the lubricant has time to dry.

Regular Cleaning/Maintenance

Keeping your charcoal grill clean throughout the season is the best way to maintain it. Follow these steps below each time you grill and periodically throughout the season for maximum effectiveness:

  • Empty the ash receptacle regularly to prevent accumulation in the air vents. Clogged air vents can make it more difficult to control the grill temperature.
  • Clean the inside of your lid every few weeks to prevent ash, smoke, grease, and other buildup from accumulating. Use a paper towel when the grill is cool to wipe off the excess buildup.
  • Clean the cooking grate after each use while the grill is still warm with your grill brush. It’s easier to remove food accumulation when the grates are still warm.
  • Oil the grates before putting your grill away after cooking. This will prevent food from sticking the next time you fire up your grill and prevents rust.

End of Season Cleaning and Check

Like with a gas grill, your end-of-season maintenance will look like your pre-season maintenance. Remove all the ashes from your charcoal grill and give it a thorough cleaning. Heat the grill to burn off the residue from cast-iron grates. Soak aluminum grates in warm, soapy water. Then wash the bottom of the bowl and the grill lid.

When everything is dry, replace the grates.  Make sure the grates are well-oiled, then cover your grill with a weatherproof cover and store it in a cool, dry place. When you bring it out at the start of next season, your pre-season maintenance will already be half-done!

Fire It Up, Grill Master!

Whether you’re cooking with a gas grill or a charcoal grill, keeping up with maintenance throughout the season is the key to delicious cookouts every time. Are you looking to add a new grill to your patio this year? Or do you need help with supplies and maintenance? The grilling experts of Cincinnati Pool and Patio are always here to help. Check out our grill selection online or contact us with questions!

Spring Has Sprung: 7 Easy Tips to Prep Your Patio this Year

Prep Your Patio for Spring

It’s not quite spring yet, but warmer days are within sight. Soon the birds will be singing, and the sun will be shining. It’ll be the perfect time to get outside and enjoy the weather from the comfort of your patio or porch!

However, winter can wreak havoc on your outdoor space. Months of being subjected to the elements can make even the sturdiest patios in need of TLC. But with a little elbow grease and some redecorating, your patio will be ready for springtime entertainment in no time. Follow our guide below for the best tips to prep your patio for spring!

1. Inspect for Winter Damage

The first step to preparing your patio for spring is to inspect for damage from the winter. Snow and ice can cause cracks, chips, and other damage to decking and patio pavers. Look around carefully to see if there is any damage on your patio that needs attention.

For wooden decking, inspect for cracked/chipped boards and loose railings. You’ll also want to look carefully for signs of rot or mildew in the wood. For stone or tile patio pavers, look for chips, cracks, or loose stones. Depending on the state of your patio, you may need to do some extensive repairs before you can use the space.

2. Spring Cleaning

After you’ve inspected your patio and repaired any damage, it’s time to give everything a thorough cleaning! For wooden decking, use a soft-bristled brush to scrub away any dirt or grime. Soft bristles will avoid damaging the wood. Then you can use a pressure washer on the lowest setting to rinse your deck and blast away the rest of the gunk from the winter.

For stone patios, make sure to remove any weeds that have grown up through the cracks. Then you can clean your patio stones with a mixture of warm water and vinegar and a stiff-bristled brush. You can also use a pressure washer for more stubborn stains and grime.

While you’re at it, your patio furniture probably could use a good rinse. If you’ve had your furniture stored over the winter, it might be dusty or grimy from disuse. Use the garden hose or a pressure washer to give life to your furniture. You should also toss your patio chair covers in the washing machine to remove stains and get everything clean for the spring.

If your furniture is looking a little worse for wear, consider replacing it with some of our large selection of patio furniture.

3. Create Shade

While soaking in the sun is one of the best parts of being outside, you’ll want to have a place to escape if it gets too warm. Add a sturdy patio umbrella to your patio or utilize fabric and a pergola to create a covered shade structure. You can also hang curtains from your patio or pergola that you can draw in the heat of the afternoon sun. Curtains will also add privacy from nosy neighbors!

4. Prep the Essentials

What do you use your patio for the most? Are you a grill master? Do you like to relax in the shade with your favorite book? Do you entertain the entire block? Whatever your goal is for your patio, make sure you have the right equipment to do it!

For grilling, have an adequate supply of propane or charcoal. They should be placed within easy reach of your grill. You should also have a food prep station and a place to put all your utensils when you’re not using them.

Create the ultimate relaxation station for your reading nook by preparing a side table next to your favorite patio chair. Consider a side table with hidden storage so you can keep your books or cozy pillows safe from the elements when you’re not outside.

If your patio is the summer barbecue destination, make sure you’ve got plenty of seating. Add a rug or a fire pit for a focal point and you’ll easily have the best patio in the neighborhood.

5. Make it Cozy

Rugs, pillows, throw blankets, and other comfort items will make your patio more inviting. Choose warm, vibrant colors that pop for spring.  Make sure your comfort items are within easy reach. You can also add string lights, lanterns, or flameless candles to your patio space to create a cozy glow once the sun goes down.

6. Don’t Forget the Storage

You don’t have to settle for plain, ugly storage bins to keep your deck pillows and other items safe from the elements. There are plenty of options on the market to add functional, stylish storage to your patio space. You can choose decorative deck boxes, storage cabinets, or tables with hidden storage. The options are endless, so you can easily find something to fit your outdoor aesthetic.

7. Add Color

Finally, you’ll want to breathe some life into your patio space. We already talked about colorful pillows, blankets, and rugs, but what about other options? Plant life is a fantastic way to add color and decoration to your patio this spring.

Once it gets warm enough, visit your local nursery to choose blooms that match your outdoor décor. Some favorite springtime plants are daffodils, violas, hyacinths, and tulips. Plant them in some fun, decorative outdoor pots or planters and you’ll have the most colorful backyard on the block!

Spring Has Almost Sprung!

With this extensive list of springtime patio prep, your backyard is sure to be your favorite destination this year. Getting outside also has a whole host of health benefits, including increased mood, and more Vitamin D production. So, you have even more incentive to get your patio space perfect.

Are you looking at your patio and  thinking it needs a facelift? You can always stop by Cincinnati Pool and Patio to discuss complete outdoor renovations with our backyard experts. Or you can spruce up your existing patio with some of our fantastic selection of patio furniture. Whatever the state of your patio, the professionals with Cincinnati Pool and Patio are always here to make your backyard great.

7 Ideas to Make Your Hot Tub the Best Place to Be This Winter

Enjoying a Hot Tub in Winter

January brings freezing temperatures, snow, and ice to the Cincinnati area. You may be thinking you’ll be stuck indoors for the next few months, wistfully looking outside waiting for warmer weather. Your pool is covered for the season, you’ve stored the patio furniture and umbrellas, and the grill is seldom used. But there’s one piece of patio entertainment that’s a staple of winter fun:

The hot tub.

With a little elbow grease and some ingenuity in design, your hot tub area could be the best winter entertainment in the neighborhood. Check out our list of the best ideas to turn your patio hot tub area into your winter paradise.

1. Add a Privacy Screen

When the last leaves fall from the trees and the colder weather sets in, your patio probably starts to feel a little exposed to the elements. Having a gazebo or pergola overhang can help shield you from the rain and wind. However, when you’re enjoying your hot tub, you’re going to want a little extra privacy from your neighbors. Try adding a privacy screen, wall, or curtain around your hot tub space to further keep the wind out and the warmth in.

There are a couple of options you have for privacy screens: you can attach them directly to the walls of the hot tub, hang curtains from a pergola, or even make them a part of the overall patio design. The options are endless, so pick the one that best fits your aesthetic and budget.

2. Make Your Towels Easily Accessible

There’s nothing worse than forgetting your towel when you’re done with a soak and having to sprint inside dripping wet. It’s even more unpleasant in the cold. Avoid the hassle and add a towel cabinet to your hot tub area so your towels are always within easy reach. Use a waterproof enclosure or keep the cabinet shielded from the elements so your towels are always fresh and dry.

3. Add a Heated Mat for Snow-Free Walkways

Snow may look pretty when it’s covering your patio, but it can make enjoying your hot tub a pain. Trying to shovel a pathway to your hot tub from your home takes time and effort for not a lot of reward. If there’s ice involved underneath the snow, there’s an even bigger chance of slipping and falling.

Try installing a heated mat along your walkway that can melt the snow instantly! These electric mats come in a variety of lengths, price points, and are non-slip. You’ll always have a secure, toasty place to walk to and from your hot tub.

4. Try a Hot Cocoa Bar!

What better way to heat up on a cold, snowy day than with a relaxing soak in a hot tub and by sipping on a hot beverage? Keep a sealed container of mugs and hot cocoa within easy reach of your hot tub, and bring out a kettle of hot water from your kitchen and bam! Instant hot cocoa, just add marshmallows.

5. Bring on the Outdoor Entertainment

If you have enough covered space on your patio, consider adding a wall-mounted TV or some wireless speakers to make your hot tub soaking experience even more magical. Catch the game from the comfort of your hot tub or relax with some spa tunes coming from your speakers. Just make sure to properly store the electronic equipment when it snows or take proper precautions to protect your devices from the elements.

6. Set the Mood with Lighting

Shorter winter days mean lots of potential hot tub time in the dark. Add a cozy glow to your hot tub experience with the appropriate mood lighting for the ultimate relaxation. You can add lanterns, string lights, or even candles around your patio for the peak of ambiance. Hang lights from your pergola or patio overhang or even just set a couple of tables around with some candles. Now  you have a cozy outdoor space that will turn your ordinary soak into a dreamy escape. Not sold on an open flame in the snow? Try out some flameless candles instead!

7. Don’t Forget About Proper Maintenance

While you’re focused on making your hot tub and patio space into the pinnacle of relaxation, it’s easy to forget your centerpiece needs some maintenance to stay in proper working order. Make sure to stay up to date on hot tub maintenance so your hot tub is ready for action when you are. Here are our top tips to keep your hot tub in peak shape during the winter:

  • Maintain the proper water temperature – Experts recommend anywhere between 97- and 104-degrees Fahrenheit for optimum hot tub soaking. Keep your hot tub set close to this range even when it’s not in use. This way the hot tub doesn’t take as long to heat up in the dead of winter.
  • Keep your water and filters clean – Stick to a regular cleaning schedule for both your water and the filters. Don’t let your routine slip just because there’s snow on the ground. You’ll want fresh water whenever you want a soak.
  • Prevent pipe freezes – Make sure your freeze protection system is turned on if you have one as part of your hot tub. Otherwise, you can set your hot tub timer to switch on every 15-20 minutes to keep hot water circulating through the pipes to prevent freezing.
  • Keep the water properly balanced – Stay up to date on chemical treatments for your water so you aren’t fighting a funky smell or algae when you want to take a soak.
  • Invest in a good cover – A thermal cover for your hot tub will keep the water toasty and clean when it’s not in use. It also will protect your hot tub from snow. Just remember to brush the snow off the cover before you try to open your hot tub!

Ready, Set, Relax

Whatever tips you decide to implement to make your patio and hot tub space your favorite destination this winter, Cincinnati Pool and Patio can help. Whether it’s finding the right hot tub chemicals or renovating your patio space this spring to use next winter, our experts can help you craft the perfect outdoor getaway in your own backyard.

8 Fun Ways to Enjoy the Holidays Outdoors This Year

Candy Cane Outdoor Activity

The holiday season is upon us. A chill is in the air, presents are being purchased and wrapped, and it’s a time to spread good cheer to everyone around us. You might think that the shorter days, longer nights, and colder weather mean that we have to retreat indoors for our holiday festivities. Not necessarily!

There’s plenty of ways to enjoy the holidays this year right from your very own backyard! Even if the weather outside is less than stellar (or if it’s, dare I say, frightful), that doesn’t mean you and your family can’t bundle up and get some fresh air. And who knows! Some of these outdoor activities could become favorite holiday traditions.

So, without further ado, read on for Cincinnati Pool and Patio’s top 8 picks for holiday activities you can do outdoors!

1. Roast Chestnuts (Or Marshmallows!) on an Open Fire

Roasting marshmallows and making s’mores seems like a summer camping activity, but why should it only be limited to the warmer months? If you have a firepit in your backyard, the holidays are the perfect time to fire it up and toast some delicious marshmallows. If you get adventurous, maybe try roasting some chestnuts or other tasty fire-roasted treats! No firepit? That’s okay! A properly maintained bonfire will work just as well. Just be sure to follow all fire safety procedures!

2. Decorate Your Door with a Homemade Wreath

A Christmas or Holiday wreath is the perfect way to add some holiday cheer to your front door. Of course, you can purchase a wreath from any store, but did you know you can also make a homemade wreath with things you can find in your own backyard? Check out this tutorial on how to make a wreath with everyday items found in nature, and get the whole family involved with this new tradition.

3. Candy Cane Scavenger Hunt

Are the kids going stir-crazy cooped up inside? How about sending them to the backyard to hunt for delicious candy canes? Reminiscent of hunting for Easter eggs left by the Easter Bunny, hide a package or two of candy canes around the yard and have the kids try to find them all! Have them fill up a basket or a bowl and see who can find the most! Of course, everyone’s a winner when they get to enjoy the tasty treats they found.

You can also do this scavenger hunt with other, non-edible objects too, like small toys or paper decorations.

4. Feed the Birds

There are plenty of bird species native to Cincinnati that don’t migrate over the winter months. Show them a little love by putting out commercial bird seed into a feeder or on the ground and see how many different birds you can spot.

5. Decorate an Outdoor Tree

Who said you had to bring your Christmas tree inside? If artificial trees aren’t your thing and you aren’t fond of the idea of vacuuming up pine needles constantly, then take your holiday cheer outdoors! Find some ornaments that are environmentally friendly and bring your lights outside to decorate a tree in your own backyard! No evergreen trees? No problem! You can still create a fantastic display on any tree (or other plants) in your backyard that will be the envy of your neighbors.

6. Sell Hot Chocolate

During the summer, kids’ lemonade stands are on every block. Why not bring that childhood business staple to the winter months with a hot chocolate stand, instead? Bundle up the kids, have the parents boil some water and make it a whole family affair that will entice the whole neighborhood! Play some holiday tunes and set out some cozy lights for some added atmosphere and you’ve got the recipe for a winter block party.

7. Play in the Snow

Of course, who could forget about everyone’s favorite wintertime activities? When the white stuff hits the ground and sticks around, it’s time to break out the snow gear and play! A couple of our favorite snowy pastimes:

  • Build a snow fort or an igloo.
  • Have a snowball fight! Loser has to shovel the driveway!
  • Build a snowman (or a snow dog).
  • Go sledding or snowboarding.
  • Make snow angels.
  • Draw pictures or write your names in the snow.
  • Make snow ice cream! (Here’s a great recipe we love!)

The snowy possibilities are endless! Even just going for a walk when the snow is falling can be a peaceful activity.

8. Soak in a Hot Tub

Finally, if you’re looking to stay warm this holiday, why not turn up the heat with a relaxing soak in one of our hot tubs? Maybe start a tradition of a family soak with hot cocoa for your holiday celebration. You can even make your patio an even cozier holiday getaway by adding twinkling patio lights and an electric space heater, so your toes don’t freeze when it’s time to get out of the water.

Make sure you limit your soaks, though. If your water is above 100℉, you should only soak for up to 15 minutes, so you aren’t at risk of overheating. If your water temperature is a little lower, however, you can stay toasty for a little longer.

Happy Holidays from Cincinnati Pool and Patio

The holidays are a time to gather with family and friends to enjoy one another’s company and the feeling of togetherness. Make your next gathering unique and special with a customized outdoor gathering setup from Cincinnati Pool and Patio. Our outdoor designers can bring your vision to life for a perfect backyard or patio that will be your family’s go-to for year-round fun. Why not put a twist on the holidays and use this list to make memories outdoors instead of staying cooped up inside around the fireplace?

For expert backyard design, hot tub solutions, or other outdoor related help, you can get in touch with Cincinnati Pool and Patio here, or stop into our store to see all that we have to offer. And from all of us at Cincinnati Pool and Patio, have a very happy holidays and a Happy New Year.

4 Signs a Semi-Inground Pool is Right for You

Stealth Semi-Inground Pool

You may or may not have heard of them, but there’s a new player in the pool industry. Semi-inground pools are quickly rising to become a popular choice for homeowners looking to add a pool to their backyard. But what is a semi-inground pool, and how do you know if it’s right for your household?

A semi-inground pool is a pool that is halfway between an above-ground and an inground pool. It offers a variety of landscaping options to mimic the look of an inground pool but is closer in price and function to an above-ground pool. Most semi-inground pools are a consistent depth throughout, and can be only partially sunken into the ground, or nearly entirely submerged. Semi-inground pools are a versatile choice for a variety of backyard types and situations.

There are a lot of factors to consider when thinking about purchasing a pool. If you’re still on the fence about what type of pool to get, take a look at our checklist of signs that a semi-inground pool is the right choice for you.

1.      You want something nice, but you don’t want to break the bank

Cost and your family’s budget are probably the most important factors when shopping for a pool. You’ll need to determine how much pool you can afford, and how much you can spend on installation costs.

Generally speaking, above-ground pools are the least expensive option, and inground pools are the most expensive. Semi-inground pools fall in the middle of the two and are a good option for the family that wants something a little nicer and a little more permanent than an above-ground pool but doesn’t have the money to spend on an inground pool.

These are fairly general numbers and not a full price estimate, but you can expect the following types of pools to fall between these ranges:

  • Above-ground pool – Between $1,000 and $6,000
  • Semi-inground pool – Between $8,000 and $23,000
  • Inground pool – $35,000 and up

2.      You have a yard with uneven or difficult terrain

Inground pools require digging deep into fairly soft, even ground over a large area. Some yards are perfect for this, but others not so much. Slopes, rocky terrain, and other environmental factors may make your backyard inhospitable to an inground pool.

Semi-inground pools can be built to work with the natural slope of a yard, seeing as only some of the pool is submerged into the ground. With minimal digging and landscaping, you can have a semi-inground pool installed to be flush with the higher elevation portion of your backyard. Then as the pool stretches across the yard, there are a variety of decorative options to dress up the wall of the pool as the yard slopes downward.

As with traditional above-ground pools, you can also have decking installed along your semi-inground pool. Some decking and landscaping options are so seamless, it may even look as if you have an inground pool from a distance. Certain brands of semi-inground pools, such as Stealth, are known for blending into your landscape.

3.      You want something that lasts

In comparison to a traditional above-ground pool, semi-inground pools are much stronger and last longer. With an above-ground pool, the freestanding nature of the structure means that the water pressure inside the pool is what keeps the walls sturdy. But too much force or pressure and those walls can crumble or fracture, and you have a costly repair on your hands.

Semi-inground pools, due to their partially submerged nature, need stronger walls to withstand the pressure and shifting of the earth around them. Semi-inground pool walls are fully insulated and several inches thick. Many are constructed out of steel, and often come with extended warranties to protect against damage, depending on the brand. Because of this, these pools are permanent structures, rather than the semi-permanent type of an above-ground pool.

A middle-of-the-road semi-inground pool will usually last somewhere between 10 and 20 years, with higher-end models easily lasting in the 30-to-40-year range. Either way you go, a semi-inground pool will be a fixture of your family’s summer entertainment for years to come.

4.      You don’t want a lengthy installation process

Inground pools may look nice, but in addition to their cost, they can take a long time to install. Depending on the materials and how it’s installed, an inground pool can take several weeks from the time the technicians excavate your yard until you’re able to swim.

This isn’t the case with a semi-inground pool. While it is true that unlike above-ground pools, it takes more than a single day to install a semi-inground pool, the installation process is not nearly the intensive time commitment that it is for an inground pool. From start to finish, a semi-inground pool usually takes around 3-5 business days to complete the installation. Sometimes, however, a bit more time is needed to finish landscaping and finishing touches. But you can be swimming in as little as a week with a semi-inground installation, which leaves you more time to enjoy your pool.

Let Cincinnati Pool and Patio Help You Choose Your Semi-Inground Pool

There are more things to consider when choosing the type of pool that’s right for your family, but if these four statements are true for you, a semi-inground pool might be your best choice. Cincinnati Pool and Patio offers a variety of pool installations, and we carry several brands of semi-inground pools that will be right at home in your backyard.

The pool season for this year may be almost over, but it’s never too early to start planning an installation for next season. If you’d like to know more about adding a semi-inground pool with Cincinnati Pool and Patio, get in touch with us for a consultation. We can go over the entire installation process with you, so when the time comes, you’ll know what to expect. And in no time you’ll be enjoying your very own semi-inground pool.

30 Delicious Recipes for Your Next Summer Barbecue

Burgers on a Grill Summer Barbecue

There’s nothing quite like a summer barbecue. The bright summer sun, good friends, and a whole lot of delicious food all make your summer barbecue something special. With Labor Day just around the corner, it might be time to start planning your end-of-summer party. You may already have a guest list and some fun backyard activities in mind, but what about the menu? That’s where we come in. We’ve scoured the internet for the best summer recipes, from grilled goodies to succulent sides, to delectable desserts. Oh, and you can’t forget the drinks! 

Read on for our top picks for each category and start planning the menu for your next barbecue!

On the Grill

Burgers

King Burger – This recipe calls for marinated beef patties to be formed around butter for an extra-juicy flavor. Grill the patties for 5-7 minutes and toast the buns, then serve with sauce, shredded lettuce, and your other favorite fixings for a burger fit for a King!

Bacon Cheeseburger with Sweet Potato Chips – Your side is included in this twist on the classic bacon cheeseburger! Fried sweet potato slices make a crunchy substitute for fries, and you can even sub your favorite cheese instead of American if you really want to spice things up. And don’t forget the bacon!

Mexican Turkey Burgers with Cilantro Lime Pesto – Who said turkey burgers have to be boring? This south-of-the-border-inspired burger calls for seasoning the patties with cumin, paprika, jalapeno, chili powder, garlic powder, and onion, just to name a few things. Pair it with the homemade cilantro lime pesto and you’ve got a zesty burger that’s sure to please. ¡Olé! 

Black Bean Burger – For vegans and veggie-lovers, try this delectable black bean burger. Black beans, brown rice, and tortilla chips combine into surprisingly delicious patties that when spiced with cumin, will convert any meat-lover over to the veggie side. 

Hot Dogs

Grilled Hot Dogs with Hatch Pineapple Salsa – For a tropical twist on a classic, try this Hatch Pineapple Salsa recipe drizzled over perfectly grilled hot dogs. The chiles and pineapple blend with pepper jack cheese for an island taste that you just can’t beat!

Chicago-Style Hot Dogs – Get a taste of the Windy City in your own backyard! This recipe calls for homemade poppy-seed buns and sport peppers for a truly authentic Chicago dog taste. 

Other Meats

Soy-Basted Chicken Kebabs with Sesame-Citrus Sprinkle – Kebabs are a great barbecue option, and this twist on chicken is sure to please even the toughest crowd. Soy, sesame seeds, and lemon zest combine for this Asian-inspired twist on grilled chicken. 

Thai Curry Grilled Chicken – This one requires a little prep to marinate the chicken overnight, but the combination of lime juice and coconut makes the chicken so creamy and tender and perfect for summer!  

Creamy Herb-Grilled Salmon – Sour cream, ranch dressing, and a bunch of herbs pack a flavorful wallop with this tasty twist on grilled salmon. Not too heavy and light and creamy, the fish with this sauce screams easy summertime living. 

Grilled Shrimp Tacos – Who doesn’t love tacos? Olive oil, lime juice, chili powder, and cilantro blend together to give your perfectly grilled shrimp a little summery kick that’s sure to be a crowd-pleaser. Garnish however you like but we recommend avocado, cheese, and hot sauce for an extra punch!

Veggies

Corn on the Cob with Seasoned Salts – A little salt, pepper, paprika, and olive oil turn bland, boring corn on the cob into a flavorful favorite that you’ll want to add to your list of summer staples.

Grilled Mixed Mushrooms with Sesame Dressing – Mushrooms can be prone to drying out when you grill them, so seasoning them with a liquid, such as in this case, a mixture of soy sauce and butter, helps keep them moist and flavorful. Each different mushroom type will have a different cooking time, so pay attention to how long each one needs to grill for the perfect mushroom each time.

Balsamic Vegetable Skewers – Balsamic vinaigrette adds a tangy taste to basic grilled vegetables. The key to this recipe is choosing vegetables that stay firm on the skewer while grilling so they don’t lose their texture and flavor. Zucchini, squash, red onion, bell peppers, and grape tomatoes are the perfect combination.

Grilled Corn, Tomato, Feta, and Herb Salad – In case you’re not a fan of corn on the cob, try charring it and then removing it from the cob to combine with tomato, feta cheese, parsley, basil, and mint for a delicious, crisp salad.

Scrumptious Sides

Smokin’ Potato Salad – Potato salad is a classic barbecue side dish, but this twist calls for smoking the potatoes on the grill first before chopping them and adding the other ingredients. 

Garden Pasta Salad – Pasta salad is also one of those classic sides for family cookouts. Tri-color pasta and several varieties of bell peppers make this a colorful, flavorful addition to any barbecue buffet table. It’s also super quick to make!

Baked Beans with Brown Sugar & Bacon – Skip the canned baked beans! This recipe is super easy to make and leaves you with the perfect savory, sweet AND smoky baked beans that will have you coming back for seconds. 

Cucumber Tomato Salad – For a refreshing summer side, mix cucumber and tomato with basil, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil, and voilà! You’ve got a simple, fresh salad ready for serving. 

Zucchini Fritters – A perfect way to sneak vegetables to even the pickiest of kids; slice up a zucchini, mix it with flour, parmesan, egg, and garlic and fry them in a skillet for a crunchy, healthy side dish.

Sweet Potato Fries – It’s hard to have a burger without fries, but sweet potato fries are a great way to switch things up. Slice up some sweet potatoes and season them with cinnamon or red pepper depending if you want sweet or spicy, then simply place them in the oven to bake! 

Delectable Desserts

4-Ingredient Blueberry Yogurt Popsicles – Sweet, tart, and a little creamy, these simple popsicles scream summer and will make all your guests scream for more! And at just four ingredients, blueberries, yogurt, honey, and milk, it doesn’t get any easier to have a frozen tasty treat.

5-Minute Jello Salad – No barbecue is complete without a jello salad for dessert. Try this super-simple recipe with strawberry or raspberry jello, cottage cheese, and cool whip for a fluffy, delectable dessert.

Fluffy Key Lime Pie – On the theme of jello, try lime gelatin in this easy, no-bake pie that is sure to cool you down in the heat of the summer. 

Frozen Greek Vanilla Yogurt – Looks like ice cream, but it’s much healthier for you! Simply mix low-fat greek yogurt, vanilla extract, gelatin, and sugar and let it freeze into the perfect consistency. 

Peanut Butter Chocolate Dessert – For both lovers of chocolate and peanut butter, this combination dessert “lasagna” is sure to be a hit! 

At the Bar

Watermelon Mojito – Mojitos are a classic summer cocktail, and the watermelon twist is sure to cool you off on even the hottest of days. 

Mai Tai – Can’t have a taste of the beach in the backyard without a classic Mai Tai. Float dark rum on top of pineapple juice, light rum, and triple sec for a sunset-inspired cocktail.  

Frozen Pina Colada – Another drink so classic there’s even a song about it, the Pina Colada will have you humming your favorite song and sipping your favorite pineapple-coconut concoction all evening long. Plus this recipe even has a virgin variety, so everyone on your guest list can feel sophisticated. 

Lava Flow – Creamy and Hawaiian-inspired, you’ll love this pineapple, banana, strawberry, coconut, and rum blend. It’s the perfect way to bring the beach to your own backyard.  

Pineapple Mimosa – Pineapple vodka, sparkling wine, orange juice, and lemon juice make this summer bar staple a refreshing anytime drink. 

Bon Appétit! 

Is anyone hungry yet? I know I am! Pick your favorite dishes and call your closest friends and you’ll have a Labor Day barbecue to remember until next summer. And if you need help firing up the grill (or choosing a new grill), stop by Cincinnati Pool and Patio for all the things you need to make your backyard barbecue a hit. 

5 Easy Tips to Swim Safely in Your Pool This Summer

Boy Swim Safely in Pool

Your pool can be an amazing way for your entire family to have fun this summer. However, pools have a lot of hidden dangers that you need to be aware of. There is a right and a wrong way to swim safely. Without the proper precautions, a fun afternoon at the pool can turn into a nightmare. Drowning is a leading cause of death in children, but adults are also susceptible. According to the CDC, there are an average of 11 deaths due to drowning every day in the United States.

Fortunately, there are several things you can do to protect you and your family from the risk of drowning. Follow this guide for the most important safety tips so your whole family can swim safely this summer.

1)     Never Swim Alone

The first rule of swimming is to always have a buddy. You are statistically more likely to drown if you’re in a pool by yourself. Children should always be supervised by an adult while in a pool or while near water. Supervising adults should be designated “water watchers,” which means that they should not be distracted while supervising others who are swimming. Do not text, read, or play games while watching swimmers. Water watchers should also have a phone nearby to call for help in case of a drowning emergency.

Even if you are at a public pool with lifeguards, an adult should supervise children while swimming. Lifeguards cannot see everything. If one lifeguard takes a break or is distracted, other lifeguards may not be able to see the entire pool area.

2)     Secure Your Pool

Many drowning accidents with children happen when children were not expected to be near a pool in the first place. If your pool is not properly secured when not in use, children or pets may be more likely to wander too close and fall in. By the time an adult notices they may be missing, it is often too late. Securing your pool properly when not in use is the key to making sure this doesn’t happen.

Make sure your inground pool is surrounded on all four sides by a fence or other barrier that is self-latching and out of reach of children. Four-sided isolation fences that separate the pool from the yard reduce a child’s risk of drowning 83% compared to three-sided property-line fencing.

Above-ground pools should have lockable covers or have the steps or ladders locked or removed so a child cannot climb in when they aren’t supervised.

You can also install door and gate alarms that will alert you when someone crosses into the pool area. There are even alarms that you can place in the pool that will sound when motion is detected in the water.

3)     Teach Proper Pool Etiquette

All adults and children in the family should be taught proper pool etiquette, starting with swimming lessons. Every member of the family should be able to enter the water safely, stay afloat, change position, swim for a distance, and then get out of the water safely. If you have small children or family who are not strong swimmers, they should wear lifejackets while near the water to keep them safe from drowning. There are many free and reduced-cost options for swimming lessons from local YMCA branches or Park and Recreation Departments, so check around and enroll your family ASAP.

Learning to swim, however, is only half of pool etiquette. You should never run near a pool; you could slip and fall in or injure yourself. Stay away from pool drains to avoid parts of your bathing suit, hair, or jewelry being sucked into the drain. Adults should always swim sober; do not ingest alcohol before or during swimming. Don’t bring glass bottles into the pool area either. They could break and cause a hazard. Make sure everyone swimming knows the pool rules, and as a pool-owner you should be prepared to remove any guests that may not be following the rules to keep everyone else safe.

4)     Keep Up with Maintenance

As a pool owner, it is your responsibility to make sure to keep up with regular pool maintenance. Letting any kind of maintenance slide could create a problem or pose danger to swimmers. Make sure that all your drain covers are working properly to avoid clothing or hair from being sucked into a drain. You should also ensure that any adult supervising your pool knows where the safety release system is in the case of a drain emergency.

You should stay on top of the chemical maintenance of your pool, as well. When used properly, chlorine kills bacteria and parasites in the water to keep you healthy. However, if the chemicals used to clean your pool are mishandled or misused, you could be at a risk for waterborne illness. And never leave chemicals unattended; keep your pool chemicals in a locked cabinet out of reach of children where they cannot be accidentally ingested.

5)     Create Layers of Protection

Adhering to all the above tips simultaneously creates what is called “layers of protection” in water safety. Just one prevention strategy often isn’t enough but combining them all together is what is the most effective in preventing drowning or other water-related injury. Preventing access to the pool when not in use, supervising, keeping up with maintenance, following pool rules and making sure all swimmers know the basics of swimming are a multi-layered strategy that works to keep people safe.

Have Fun and Stay Safe

Having a pool in your backyard is a big responsibility, but when safety procedures are followed properly, swimming can be fun for the whole family. Pools can be daunting to maintain by yourself, so if you’re ever in doubt or have any questions, you can call your friendly, local experts at Cincinnati Pool and Patio for help with water maintenance, safety equipment, and pool openings and closings. We can even inspect your pool to make sure everything is working properly; there could be something you’re missing that an expert would catch!

With all this in mind, have fun, be safe, and happy swimming!