How to Identify Unsafe Swimming Pools
July 13th, 2016 by Attorney John Colvin
Summertime and swimming go hand in hand, but when you head out for a family day at the pool, be on the lookout for signs of unsafe and unsanitary conditions.
In Nashville, a recent inspection of more than 800 public pools resulted in the Metro Public Health Department’s closing about 30 pools for failing to meet safety standards. A health department official told WKRN news that a pool might fail a safety inspection for reasons that include a complete lack of chlorine in the water, broken glass in the pool, and the absence of lifesaving equipment.
Signs of an unsanitary pool
Before getting into a swimming pool, look for signs that may indicate it’s unsanitary. In a clean, properly maintained pool, water should be crystal clear, and you should be able to see the bottom of the pool in the deepest end. Murky water may mean the water isn’t properly chlorinated, and it can also interfere with a lifeguard’s ability to see when someone below the water’s surface needs help.
Water circulation and filtration is essential for a clean pool. Filtration systems work by pulling dirty water in through a skimmer, passing it through chemicals, and pumping the clean water back to the pool through jets along the pool’s floor and walls. Pumps and filters should be running at least eight hours per day. If you look into a public pool and see return jets that aren’t working, the water may be unsanitary, even if it looks clear.
Even when filtration systems are working properly, there may be “dead areas” where physical features of a pool interfere with circulation. If not manually cleaned, dead areas can attract bacteria and algae. Look behind pool ladders, around steps, and underneath skimmers for algae or grime that could pose a safety risk.
Human risk factors
In wading or kiddie pools, one of the biggest health risks is Cryptosporidium, an illness-inducing germ present in human waste. Swim diapers or swim pants may delay waste from leaking into the water, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises these diapers are not leak-proof. The CDC recommends caregivers check children’s swim diapers every 30 to 60 minutes, and change diapers away from the water – ideally, in a restroom, where caregivers can thoroughly wash their hands with soap and water.
Equipment and facility dangers
In a public pool area, there are several features beyond the pool itself that may pose a safety risk. Shower areas should be clean and in good condition, and drains and metal fixtures should be free of rust.
Furniture surrounding a pool should be clean and in good condition, with no cracked or broken parts that could cut or pinch the skin. Decks or concrete areas around pools should also be in good condition, with no sharp edges.
Tennessee state law requires a certain number of lifeguards to be on duty at public pools, depending on the pool’s square footage, and staffing levels also must increase based on the number of swimmers in the pool. For example, a pool with 25 or fewer swimmers may have only one lifeguard on staff, whereas 25 to 50 swimmers would necessitate two lifeguards. Parents should always ensure lifeguards are present at public pools; however, a lifeguard is not a substitute for parental supervision.
John R. Colvin, Attorney at Law, has successfully represented individuals and families throughout Tennessee and Alabama who have been injured due to unsafe conditions caused by the negligence of others. For 20 years, he has been helping victims put their lives back on track and he is ready to help you. For advice on how to proceed next or if you have any questions about this topic, call (931) 962-1044 or submit this online form. Put his bold approach and client focus to work for you.