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As pool sales skyrocket, what you need to know about staying safe

Published: Jun. 30, 2020 at 6:37 PM CDT
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MARATHON COUNTY, Wis. (WSAW) -Summer is in full swing, but many public pools are still closed for the season. That means people are buying pools for the first time and becoming their own lifeguards.

The manager of Placeway Pools, Spas and Patio in Wausau says right now many people are choosing to swim in their own yards. He says in their 40 years in business, they'd never had to tell customers they sold out until this year.

Manager Dan Ehmke says it’s stressful telling customers they’ll need to pre-order for next year in order to get a pool.

"It's been a crazy year, definitely unique. A lot of inquiries for new pools, and it's really tough to say we don't have any pools left," said Ehmke.

He says many families are buying a pool, hot tub or spa.

Ehmke says Placeway’s biggest competition is the internet, and he appreciates that his customers have supported local. The store did not anticipate this year’s demand when ordering inventory last winter.

“People wanted to stay home, entertain their kids, what’s better to entertain the kids than to put a pool in the backyard? Parents can bring or have a couple friends over, they can send their kids in the pool, they can play together. The virus isn’t going to live in a chlorinated pool,” he said.

A backyard pool might be a safe escape from COVID-19, but new pool owners should keep safety in mind.

"The water is a good choice, but you have to make the right choices, you have to make good decisions," said Jennifer Passehl, facility director at the Marathon Area Swim Association.

"Never swim alone, whether you're an adult or a child," she said.

Passehl says if someone falls in or starts having trouble, fight the urge to jump in and risk yourself unless you are a skilled swimmer.

"Being able to reach a long pole, or throw some type of a device, very common a ring buoy, to be able to get to them and pull them to safety as quickly as possible," she said, describing how to rescue someone from the water.

She says the safest option is to keep life jackets close by.

"Children as well as adults, if they're not comfortable, you need to have that life jacket available and on," she said.

While the Marathon Area Swim Association isn’t giving swim lessons right now because of social distancing, Passehl says learning to swim is an important tool.

“Whether you’re an avid swimmer but love to fish and spend time near the water, or with ice, being out on ice and things happening. There’s so many water sources, not just pool-related, but lakes, quarries, ponds, all of that, where things can happen very quickly,” she said.

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