By SEAN BARRON
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
Willie Oddis' company has been in business for 50 years and is still making a splash.
"We base a lot of sales on the next generation. [Customers'] grandchildren and children are buying pools for their families," the sales manager of Burnett Pools, Spas & amp; Hot Tubs said.
Oddis and several other salespeople talked about what customers look for before buying an in-ground or above-ground pool, as well as certain buying trends they see. A safety expert also discussed how pool lovers can stay safe and maximize their summer enjoyment.
Burnett Pools in Canfield sells both types of pools, and many of Oddis' customers favor aluminum models, since they don't rust. Most buyers look for anything low-maintenance, he added.
In hot water: Hot tubs are a growing part of Oddis' business, in part because of their year-round use. As a result, more customers are buying both items "for 12 months of enjoyment," Oddis also said.
At BY Pools in Lowellville, sales are slower than normal because of this year's inconsistent weather and last summer's cool conditions, said a company spokeswoman. Last year, many people were closing their pools in August, normally the hottest month of the season, she pointed out.
This year, many customers are waiting to see what the weather will do, while others are cautious, in part because of the new U.S. president and changes in the economy, she added.
Inflatable pools have been hot items at the Austintown Wal-Mart, outselling the traditional metal ones, according to the store's assistant manager, John McPheron. Such pools are easy to blow up and can be up to 36 inches deep. Customers also like being able to easily roll them up for winter storage, McPheron added.
Safety matters: Regardless of pool size, type or shape, certain precautions should be taken to prevent serious injury or death and to ensure a summer of fun and safety.
Bonnie Wilson, the health, safety and communications service director for the Trumbull County Red Cross chapter, suggested pool owners install a phone or have a cordless model to call 911. She also said people should gauge how they feel before taking to the water.
"We talk about the toos: too tired, too cold, too far from safety and too much sun," Wilson stressed.
Pools should be enclosed with a self-locking, self-enclosed fence. It's also important to keep furniture away from the fence to prevent anyone from climbing over, and toys should be removed from the pool when it's not in use. Toys often act as a temptation for young children, Wilson added.
Pool owners should be sure to have life-saving equipment handy, such as a rope, pole and flotation device, she urged.
Families with small children need to have doors leading from the house to the pool locked with an alarm, Wilson suggested.
"If a child is missing, always check the pool first," she said. "Scan the entire pool and surrounding area."