Product roundup of automatic pool covers

We recently received an e-mail from a reader who took exception to a Waterfront item we ran in March. "All The World's A Playground" (page 16) profiled a professional skateboarder who goes by the name "Peacock." Peacock and some fellow skaters have long used abandoned swimming pools as skate parks, and lately there's been an abundance of them, thanks to the skyrocketing rate of foreclosures.

"We have more pools than we know what to do with," he said. "I can't even keep track of them all anymore."

Sounds pretty rad, right? Not to Katie Windmueller, office manager for Pool Cover Specialists SE, who wrote the following:

I can't believe what I just read about pools at foreclosed homes in the Fresno, Calif., area. First of all, we have always heard that pools should not be drained completely because they can pop out of the ground when the ground is saturated, or in the event of an earthquake.

Secondly, who is liable when a skateboarder bashes his head or breaks a leg while using the empty pool as a skate park? This is a sue-happy society these days and whoever holds the mortgages on these houses is liable if someone gets hurt or killed.

Is Josh Peacock getting permission from the owner (probably a bank) and getting insurance to cover his insane idea? Where is the locked gate at these homes? Who is responsible for locking the gate after the kids use the pool for a rink?

Our company, Pool Cover Specialists SE, based in Charleston, S.C., sells and installs safety pool covers and we are working with agents in our area covering these foreclosure pools. Someone is responsible if a child or pet drowns in the pool, and a good many of them haven't been cleaned in a long time, leaving the water green and murky. Anything could be on the bottom and you wouldn't know it. We remind the agents or banks of the danger of an open pool. With summer coming, kids do climb fences or get in unlocked gates, and the foreclosures are running rampant in this part of the country.

If you live in an area with lots of pools and lots of foreclosures, it may be worth your while to follow Windmueller's example and develop relationships with local banks and real estate agents. They're in the business of money and housing transactions, and likely haven't given the safety of unused swimming pools a lot of thought. It could be a good source of income and a good way to help keep people - from skate punks to curious kids - safe. Once you've gotten their interest, you can choose from among the following cover manufacturers and their latest models.

Pool Cover Primer

Aquamatic Cover Systems | 800/262-4044

Aquamatic manufactures three unique covers. The Hydramatic is a full-fluid drive automatic system, the EZ-Cover is a single-user manual cover, and both offer safety and energy conservation. The HydraLux is an automated energy-saving device, but not a safety cover.

Commercial Fabrics | 800/695-9438

Commercial Fabrics' pool safety covers feature durable polypropylene, 500-pound-tensile-strength webbing and triple-reinforced stitching. Standard and free-form custom sizes are available in mesh, deluxe mesh or solids. All covers include complete hardware, instructions for installation and a 10-year warranty.

The Cover Company | 908/707-1122

A Coverlon Cover is manufactured with the highest standards in the industry, the company claims. The Cover Company says that its No. 1 priority is making a cover that will provide you with the security of knowing you are selling a great product and that your customer and their families are safe.

Cover-Pools Incorporated | 800/447-2838

Cover-Pools says its pool covers can increase dealer sales by making pools safer and more energy efficient. Dealers can save customers up to 70 percent on heat, water and chemical costs each year with these technologically advanced safety covers, according to Cover-Pools.

Coverstar LLC | 800/617-7238

Coverstar says its Eclipse automatic safety cover not only provides safety, it's also the perfect green solution for pool owners. It can save them up to 70 percent on heating costs, 70 percent on pool chemicals and 90 percent on water.

GLI Pool Products | 800/448-2343

GLI's ProMesh safety cover material offers solid-cover benefits without the added weight, the company says. ProMesh offers stronger springs and tighter covers, coming standard with Pull-Tite commercial-grade springs, according to GLI.

Katchakid | 888/552-8242

Katchakid specializes in swimming pool safety nets that are ASTM F1346-91 compliant. The company invites dealers looking for more information on how to make customers' pools safer to call or visit the Katchakid Web site.

LOOP-LOC, Ltd. | 800/562-5667

Pools with raised obstructions have always posed challenges for safety cover installation. LOOP-LOC says its new AQUA-LOC treatment is easy to install and use, and greatly reduces the need for strap-and-buckle treatments. It meets all ASTM standards, the company says.

Merlin Industries | 800/289-1836

Merlin says its SmartMesh safety covers are the first and only mesh safety covers that provide 100 percent shade from algae-causing sunlight and filter particles as small as 40 microns. SmartMesh covers are 40 percent lighter than typical solid safety covers and provide cleaner spring pool openings, Merlin says. Covers are also available in Solid, Dura-Mesh, Advanced Grade Mesh and Classic Mesh.

Meyco Products | 800/446-3926

According to Meyco, fit technology is the key to a happy customer and to building trust. Innovative design applications such as step cutting and features like the pivoting snap hook and Polyguard assure that a Meyco cover is the best-fitting manual safety cover on the market, the company says. Whether its MeycoLite, Permaguard or RuggedMesh, see why Meyco says, "Everyone trusts the original."

Plastimayd Pool Products | 800/348-2600

Plastiayd offers the ULTRAMAYD mesh safety cover, which is designed to be a better, lightweight cover. Each Plastimayd cover is custom designed and comes with commercial-grade hardware, with dependable eight-day turnaround guaranteed, the company says.

Pool Cover Specialists Nat'l | | 800/369-5152

Pool Cover Specialists Nat'l offers the INFINITY 4000 and POWERTRAK. The INFINITY 4000 is a state-of-the-art automatic covering system, according to the company. The POWERTRAK is designed for use by existing pool owners who want an affordable, automatic pool-covering system.

Poolsaver by Sun Systems | 714/671-5900

Sun Systems' Poolsaver cover is designed for safety, comfort and convenience. The company says it can help integrate a custom-made cover system into a pool design or help retrofit a Poolsaver right into an existing pool.

Rayner Covering Systems| 800/648-0757

Rayner says it makes pool cover repairs a whole lot easier. The company says it can repair or duplicate all brands of in-ground pool covers, and will pick up the shipping charges, too.

Vyn-All Pool Products | 800/553-5320

When it comes to safety covers, the hardware used is as important as the covering material, according to Vyn-All. That's the reasoning behind Vyn-All's decision to offer double-tension, commercial-grade springs on all its residential safety covers. The stainless-steel, commercial-grade springs provide unsurpassed strength - they're 75 percent stronger than the industry standard residential springs,

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