Special Report Pool Safety - WRBL

Special Report Pool Safety

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COLUMBUS, Ga. - School is almost out for the summer and visiting the public pools might be on your list of things to do. Are there dangerous chemicals in the public pools? How can you be sure your children are safe? News 3's Naomi Keitt took these questions to the Health Department and Columbus Parks and Recreation. 

In just a week, hundreds of swimmers will dive into the 4 outdoor public pools in Muscogee County for the first time this summer. As Columbus Parks and Recreation puts the finishing touches on inspections, News 3's Naomi Keitt looked into how pools are kept safe for you and your family and what you need to know before visiting the pools.

Environmental Health Specialist Kristi Ludy says the first factor they look for during an inspection is water clarity. It can be a telltale sign of the safety of the pool.

"In case somebody gets to the bottom of the pool and can't come back up. We never want to have someone missing on the bottom of the pool," said Kristi Ludy. 

Several chemical factors need to be in balance to keep the water safe for swimmers. Ludy says Ph balance and disinfectant levels are two of the most important. 

"A disinfectant that's too low would mean that it's not killing bacteria like it should and that could be harmful and if they're too high that could possibly be toxic to somebody," said Ludy. 

News 3's Naomi Keitt took at look at the inspection records for Muscogee County pools. They all passed inspection and had a safe range of chemicals in the water. The health department doesn't only inspect the water. They also look around the pool for safety features required for swimming areas. Ludy says each pool needs a ring buoy with a string, a 12 foot pole with a body hook on the end, posted pool rules, and most importantly pool markers to show the depth of the pool and what swimmers can and can't do. 

"They need to know what they might be jumping into. How deep the water is. Like I mentioned 5 feet and less is considered shallow so it would be no diving. We would need to have no diving specified on the deck in those areas," said Ludy. 

The health department inspects the pools at least twice a year, but what's being done on a daily basis when the pools do open? We took that question to Columbus Parks and Recreation. Assistant Director Holli Browder says they test the water chemicals daily and also make sure the area and furniture surrounding the pool doesn't pose a risk to swimmers. 

"We have them inspect all public areas. So that's from teh pool deck where you would have your chair and tables. Where people would be walking. We also have them inspect the slide area where people are going down the stairs so any part of the public access areas at our pools," said Holli Browder. 

Even when the chemicals in the water are at a safe level, doctors say there are some things you need to know to make sure your children don't get sick. 

"Oh yes. Every pediatrician will see a gazillion swimmer's ear. So that's very very common," said Dr. Chandra. 

Dr. Ritu Chandra at Phenix City Children's and the Fort Mitchell Clinic says swimmer's ear along with diarrhea, pink eye, and sunburns are all common pool illnesses. She says all of these things are preventable by keeping clean, taking frequent bathroom breaks and using sunblock. For swimmer's ear, Dr. Chandra says make sure the water drains completely from the ear canal. Dr. Chandra also has some safety tips for parents this summer. She says to teach your children to swim so they are comfortable around the water. Put a fence around your pool if you have one in your backyard. Watch your children at all times when they are in or around the pool. 

For more information on pool safety you can visit http://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/swimming/.


 


 

Naomi Keitt

Naomi Keitt focuses on education reporting for WRBL News 3. More>>

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