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Matt Gohlke / Pools

Matt Gohlke: Prepare for July Fourth party

The July Fourth weekend is traditionally the biggest weekend of the year for pool use.

If you are the pool owner, hopefully by now your July Fourth plans are in place (or are least close to being in place) for your guests. If you are anything like me, you prefer to follow a list to be sure that everything gets done. Following is a checklist to assure that your July Fourth pool party will be one to be remembered.

Be sure the pool is ready. To avoid last-minute water problems such as cloudy water or a green pool, be sure that your pool water is balanced — have it professionally analyzed at a pool store sometime before your party. This preventative maintenance will help prevent eye and skin irritation that sometimes accompanies a weekend of swimming in a pool of unbalanced water. Eye and skin irritation are usually caused by insufficient sanitizer levels or incorrect pH levels.

In addition to preparing the pool, the area surrounding the pool will also probably need some attention — such as mowing, trimming plants, cleaning the patio, etc. Consider using container plants in the pool area to help dress it up. Also, do not forget to get rid of pests such as wasps and ants.

Decorations and music really help set the mood. Seasonal decorations really can add to the feel of the party. Paper products, such as tablecloths, plates, cups and napkins are also available in a pool party theme. For evening parties, try stringing Christmas lights along the fence and in the trees and shrubbery or use tiki torches.

Patriotic music or beach music (try some Beach Boys or Jimmy Buffet) can really add to pool parties.

Firing up the grill and serving hamburgers and hot dogs is always a safe bet. For the more courageous, smoke a brisket or some ribs. And for dessert, nothing represents summer and pool party more than homemade ice cream. Be sure to delegate some of the food responsibilities to your guests.

Pool safety should always be a concern. Many drownings and accidents occur during parties as children are often ignored while parents socialize. It might be a good idea to either hire a lifeguard or have parents take shifts being the pool monitor. If you are serving alcohol, be especially careful. Make sure that your pool’s depth is known by the swimmers and also be sure to let them know what areas are safe for diving — if any. In addition, do not forget to keep plenty of water available as spending time in the sun can lead to dehydration.

As you and your guests enjoy the pool party, you should be aware of the possibility of sun damage and eye/skin irritation. Applying sunscreen thoroughly and liberally is the key. Many times we overlook the fact that we need a waterproof sunscreen for use in pools. Men with thinning hair should be extremely careful and apply sunscreen liberally to the top of the head or better yet — wear a hat. To prevent eye/skin irritation — be sure that the pool water is chemically balanced. Once the damage is done, eye drops will usually provide relief for irritated eyes. To treat irritated skin, take a cool shower and then apply a moisturizing lotion.

Although providing a pool and some food is usually enough for your guests, activities such as pool games can really add to the party. There are many pool games that can be found on Google by searching “swimming pool games and activities.”

The main thing to remember is that planning and delegation are the keys to having a good party that everyone, including the host, can enjoy. Have a fun and safe July Fourth!

MATT GOHLKE owns Gohlke Pools, which has earned national awards, certifications and recognition in the pool industry. He can be reached at 940-387-7521 or .