The Wilson Times



Thursday, June 27, 2013 10:49 PM

Pools pose dangers
Don't let injuries drain the fun out of summer

By Olivia Neeley | Times Staff Writer

It’s that time of year for a little fun in the sun. And whether you are headed on vacation or out to the local public pool, Wilson County’s Environmental Health officials say there are precautions each family can take to ensure safety.

One tip pool goers can easily remember is, "if you can’t see the drain cover, don’t go in the water,” said Jim Martin, Environmental Health supervisor. "I’ve seen some motels where you can’t really see the bottom.”

Cloudy pool water poses dangers.

"Somebody could be at the bottom of the pool and you wouldn’t see them,” Martin said. "Water clarity is important so you can see the pool because you will have the advantage of knowing somebody’s in trouble and you can get to them.”

There are 44 permitted public swimming pools in Wilson County which are required to be inspected. Seasonal pools — open from Memorial Day to Labor Day — are inspected one time a year. The inspections are unannounced. Year-round pools are inspected twice a year. Wilson’s Environmental Health has three authorized public swimming pool inspectors. Officials said churches and summer camps are not allowed to use kiddie pools or "fill and draw pools” because there is no circulation for disinfection.

 

PREVENTING DROWNINGS

Amanda Smith, Environmental Health program specialist, said for public regulated pools there is a term called "user load,” which means only so many people can be in a pool at one time.

"Most public pools have someone generally watching the area,” she said. "Part of their responsibilities is to make sure not too many people are in the pool at one time.”

These precautions give attendants or lifeguards a better visual on what activities are going on inside the pool.

While some folks will be at public pools, others will be at private pools throughout the summer and Fourth of July holiday. Smith said it’s important to pay attention to children swimming, because drownings can happen quickly.

"You look away,” she said. "You think you’re talking for two to three minutes when really you are involved in the conversation, and it could be 10 minutes. Ten minutes at the bottom of the pool, you are not getting them back. Watch what they are doing.”

 

INJURIES

People shouldn’t dive into a pool that is 5 feet deep or less, officials said. Officials said while they can enforce that rule with public pools, it should also be applied to private pools. Smith said there was a public pool where adults had been drinking. One of them dove into a pool that was only 5 feet deep.

"He hit his head when he went down,” Smith said. "He broke his neck, but it didn’t kill him. He cracked a bone. He wasn’t paralyzed. He was very fortunate.”

She said there is nothing wrong with having a good time, but it’s good to have someone sober at pool parties in case of emergencies.

 

MAIN DRAINS AND SKIMMERS

Children shouldn’t play with main drain covers or skimmers due to suction, officials said.

"If they are sticking their hands in there, they have a potential to get stuck,” Smith said referring to skimmers. "The biggest threat for suction hazard drowning is the main drain. They’re always located on the deepest end at the bottom of the pool. The cover should be intact, meaning none of the pieces of it should be broken off. It also needs to have all the screws in it.”

Smith said if you do see something wrong with the main drain, notify a lifeguard or pool operator.

"When I was little we used to play who can get to the bottom of the pool, closest to the drain,” she said. "That’s actually a very dangerous game.”

 

SPREADING GERMS

Officials said if you or your children are sick with diarrhea, you should refrain from getting in the pool. Viruses can spread quickly.

"I know it’s tempting to get the kids out of the house because it’s summer time, but if they have diarrhea you have a chance of making others sick,” Smith said.

Another good tip is to change children’s diapers frequently and dispose of them in appropriate trash can areas.

 

olivia@wilsontimes.com | 265-7879
The Wilson County Environmental Health Services and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers the following tips for staying safe at the pool this summer:


Chlorine and Pool Equipment

• You should be able to clearly see the bottom of a pool or spa

• A well-chlorinated pool has little odor. A strong chemical smell indicates a maintenance problem.

• Make sure pool equipment is working. Pool pumps and filtration systems make noise and you should hear them running.


Drain Covers/Skimmers

• Look at main drain covers at the bottom of pool or spas. If the covers are broken or missing, don’t get in.

• Never allow children to play with main drain covers or skimmers.


Safety Provisions

Do not play with ring buoy or body hook because they are required safety provisions.


Child Safety

• Keep on eye on children at all times; kids can drown in seconds.

• Don’t use air-filled swimming aides, like "water wings,” with children instead of life jackets or life preservers.


Cleanliness

• Refrain from swimming when you have diarrhea.

• Avoid swallowing pool water or getting it in your mouth.

• Shower before swimming; wash your hands after using the bathroom or changing diapers.

• Change diapers in bathroom, not poolside.

• Children should wear tight-fitting swim diapers. Diapers should be checked before entering the water.

• Take children to bathroom breaks often.


Emergency Phone

Look for an emergency phone at the public pool. The emergency phone should be used to call 911 only.




©The Wilson Times, Wilson, North Carolina.
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