A public pool is a wonderful resource for any community. It makes swimming and lounging accessible to everyone. But have you ever wondered if it was truly safe? Unlike a home pool, you won’t have full control over the safety measures in place at a public pool. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that one-in-eight routine inspections of a public swimming facility discovered a violation so dangerous that the pool was closed immediately.
Today, we’re tackling potential dangers and how to check the safety levels of a public pool.
Potential Public Pool Pitfalls
Each year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports the most common dangers that pools can pose for public health.
Here are some of the heaviest offenders:
Don’t Drink the Water!
Hopefully, this one is common knowledge, but if you’re swimming in a pool… don’t drink the water! It can be more harmful than you may expect. The water’s acidity or pH level is often way out of control. At the most basic level, improper pH levels can irritate the eyes and skin of swimmers. Beyond that, maintaining a healthy pH level is crucial to killing bacteria and parasites before they become a hazard, so you never know what you’ll be ingesting.
The second most common type of violation was related to safety equipment (think: rescue rings and poles) that are meant to minimize drowning risk.
Finally, the other frequent issue brought up by the CDC was the overabundance of disinfectant chemicals present in the public pool water. Sure, these chemicals can clean the pool… but too much can lead to health trouble for swimmers, including breathing difficulty and skin irritation.
How Can You Help Keep Your Family Safe?
As we mentioned, when you use a public facility, you’re not in charge. You can’t manually manage the chemical levels or repair the equipment. Of course, that doesn’t mean that you are helpless. Beware of a false sense of security. There’s still a lot that a regular citizen can do to increase safety at the public pool. Before you set foot in the water, here are several safety tips to follow:
- Always check on a public swimming pool’s latest inspection results. If you live in a state that published these records online, such as Florida, you can check without ever leaving the comfort of home.
- This is just good advice for general pool safety, but never step into a pool unless there is lifeguard on duty. Active supervision is critical for avoiding potential hazards.
- Ask the lifeguard if you can check the pool’s safety equipment.
- Be sure to inspect any drain covers for damage. A damaged drain is dangerous. It can trap a swimmer underwater.
- If you or a loved one is currently sick, stay away from the community pool. It’s easy to catch or spread germs at a public pool.
- Always shower before and after entering a public pool. A clean body is considerate to other swimmers.
- Finally, once again, don’t drink the water! You never know what might be lurking in there!