When temperatures are soaring, there’s nothing quite like cooling off in a pool. For those who don’t have the luxury of a pool in the backyard, public pools are the next best thing. They provide a place where all ages can come and enjoy the refreshment water provides, in a safe space. Unless it isn’t.
Swimmers visiting a pool in Durham, North Carolina, were hospitalized due to being exposed to Sodium Hypochlorite vapors. The chemical leaked as a result of problems with the pool pump. 40 children and two adults were evaluated at local hospitals and treated. Fortunately, no one was seriously injured. Nausea and trouble breathing seemed to be the main issues with the victims.
Issues with Public Pool Safety
The incident in Durham was an unfortunate occurrence and not typical of the problems public pools are known to have. More common issues are health concerns. In 2013, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) went to the states with the highest number of public pools and hot tubs and did a study. Arizona, California, New York, Texas and Florida made up the list. What they found was alarming.
After checking the routine inspections of 50,000 public pools, water playgrounds and hot tubs, the CDC found there was at least one violation in about 80% of the 84,000 inspections cited. Over 10% of those pools were closed immediately, due to serious violations, including health and safety issues.
Most of the closures affected the “kiddie” pools. A fifth of these pools were closed due to three main issues: improper pH levels, lack of safety equipment and the insufficient disinfectant concentrations. Adequate pH levels are necessary to kill off germs, which can be rampant, particularly in children’s wading pools.
Children, Water Play and Pool Safety
When it comes to germs, public pool safety seems most affected where children are concentrated. This has to do with fecal matter being introduced into the water through dirty diapers or people with diarrhea. While many parents use swim diapers on their little ones, these do not prevent the water from being contaminated. Urine, feces, and infectious pathogens can still get in the water.
Your Role in Public Pool Safety
Regular bathroom breaks for kids, avoiding pools and hot tubs when you have diarrhea and showering before you enter the water will help prevent contamination. Concerned parents and swimmers can get pH test strips at a pool supply store to test the water and ensure that it is safe.
Check the drain covers of the pool to make sure they are secure and in good condition. This can be another source of problems with public pools. Damaged or missing drain covers are a definite hazard.
It’s also important to be able to identify the lifeguards, particularly when children are in the pool. They are trained to know the difference between play and a serious problem. More than once, a person has fallen victim to drowning because no one was aware the person was having trouble.
Be Safe, Stay Well
Contaminated water can cause a variety of problems, from rashes and itching to more serious illnesses requiring hospitalization. You can check online for results of the safety inspection of the public pool you plan to visit. Doing your own inspection is also recommended by Dr. Michele Hlavsa, chief of the CDC’s Healthy Swimming Program.
Taking the time to check things out yourself can help ensure your visit to the public pool is fun and refreshing, and doesn’t end in a visit to the emergency room. At Frohlich, Gordon & Beason, P.A., we know how important accountability is to your health and wellbeing. When you or a loved one has suffered personal injury due to the neglect or actions of another, give us a call. You may be entitled to a settlement for your pain and suffering.
With office locations in Port Charlotte, North Port, and Englewood, we are conveniently located to service the greater southwest Florida region. You can depend on us to provide you with superior legal service, because we are the lawyers who care.