Public Swimming Pools | Find A Local Pool and Have Fun

Public Swimming Pools & Swimming Pool Safety Regulations. Enjoy Your Local Public Swimming Pool With Your Family & Things To Look Out For.   

Large local pools are a great place to do on those hot Summer days.  If you're in a bigger city, you could have dozens of pools.  Some are free and some are not.  When you and your family go swimming use a hot tub or spa, the pool operator/manager must adhere to the federal, state, and local swimming pool safety regulations.  When I was the pool operator at the YMCA I made sure all the patrons and guests had a great time swimming with friends and family. 

Public Swimming Pools

Public Swimming Pool Regulations

Public pool rules and regulations are not there to keep you from having a good time.  They're created and enforced so that you can have a good time with friends and family.  Your local health department is working to ensure that all pools have:

  • An approved bathing safety protocol
  • Correct and experienced supervision
  • First Aid kit and properly working equipment
  • Proper use of chemicals and timely readings
  • Proper maintenance and operation of filtration equipment
  • Swimming pool rules are properly displayed

This is just a summary and in no way allows for any legal advice.  You may want to check with your local health department for a complete summary for pools in your area.  Some states also offer public swimming pool grants.  Commercial pools should be operated and maintained so there are no health risks. This list will give you a good run-down of what you may expect.

  • Provide trained lifeguards or adequate supervision.  They don't want anyone to become part of the national drowning statistics
  • Provide the proper disinfectant levels
  • Continuously operate the swimming pool’s filtration systems.  I believe most commercial pools must filter 24/7
  • Use a clean water supply to fill and top-off the swimming pool
  • Keep electrical circuits or wiring 10 feet or more from swimming pool
  • Maintain emergency lighting
  • Keep all lifesaving equipment on the swimming pool deck and within reach
  • Keep the pool drain visible
  • Depth markings must be clearly posted
  • Provide and maintain an enclosure or safety fence around the pool to prevent non-use access
  • Properly maintain drain grate and repair any broken or missing parts
  • Reduce overcrowding.  Two or more lifeguards should be on duty during busy times.
  • Glass or sharp objects should not be permitted in or around the deck area

Some hotels may or may not have trained lifeguards or other forms of supervision so please ask before swimming.

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Can A Public Pool Make You Sick

According to this report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between 2000 and 2014, there were 493 reported disease outbreaks associated with public swimming pools and hot tubs.  Over 27,200 people during that period reported becoming sick after swimming in contaminated public pools.

The swimming pool and hot tub are the central point of public places such as the YMCA and health clubs.  Not everyone uses the treadmill or stationary bikes.  Perhaps only 1/3 use free weights.  But over 80% of patrons use the pool and/or hot tub.  It's for this reason that understanding pool chemistry and the dangers of water-borne pathogens is so important. 

Public Swimming Pools

What Makes People Sick In Public Pools

If, after swimming in a public pool, you feel a little "off" or queasy, there could be a change you've been exposed to bacteria or a water-borne pathogen.  First thing is to be immediately checked out by your doctor.  

One of the main concerns is called Cryptosporidium which also known as Crypto.  Cryptosporidium, also known as Crypto, is the worst repeat offender.  This is a diarrhea-causing protozoan parasite that is highly resistant to normal chlorine levels.  Once Crypto enters the water, proper steps need to be taken to get rid of it.  Crypto is so wide spread that it accounts for nearly 60 percent of confirmed U.S. pool-related infectious disease outbreaks.  Young children and the elderly are the most susceptible to get Crypto. 

What Are The Symptoms Of Cryptosporidium

Crypto symptoms usually include diarrhea, fever, vomiting, and stomach cramps.  Crypto can be deadly for those with compromised immune systems.  Pregnant women, children, and the elderly are also at heightened risk.  The greatest risk time is at the height of the swimming season, usually April - September. 

How To Protect Yourself In A Public Pool

One of the best ways to protect yourself and others is if you feel sick, or have any intestinal issues, simply don't go swimming.  Swim diapers for your toddler is also a very good preventative measure.  Please use the restroom and take a hot soapy shower before swimming.  And simply don't drink or swallow public pool water.  You can also ask to check the records log for the pool and hot tub to see if its being properly cared for.  We'll never get to absolute zero risk in public swimming pools, but taking the right precautions can greatly reduce the risk.    

Public Swimming Pools For Operators & Managers

Some of us have been commercial pool operators.  I did my stint at the YMCA pool in Oregon where we averaged over 6,000 swimmers per month.  Everyone who maintains a public pool should do the following:

  • Properly disinfect the swimming pool with pool chlorine or another kind of sanitizer
  • Take accurate readings and measurements of chemicals using the right kind of water testing kit
  • Keep accurate records
  • Understand the proper use of all chemicals
  • Control the cleanliness of the swimming area
  • Supply supervisory personnel
  • Report injuries and communicable diseases to the proper authorities
  • Maintain a clean and neat facility
  • Be sure all equipment is working properly including fresh air supply, air circulation, ventilation, and filters
  • Become a Certified Pool Operator 

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Some Swimming Pool Safety Rules

Always have adult supervision when children are swimming. Child water safety is always first.

  • Instruct any babysitter on the dangers of leaving a child unattended
  • During a large swimming party, always have an adult as the “watcher”. Never assume someone is watching while children are in or near a pool
  • Never assume that the lifeguard on duty will always catch everything all the time.
  • Just because your child may know how to swim, never assume he is "drown-proof"
  • Pregnant women should consult their physician before using a Hot Tub or Sauna
  • Stay only up to 15 minutes in a Hot Tub or spa
  • Children under 6 should not use the Hot Tub or spa
  • Stay out of a pool or Hot Tub if you have a communicable disease
  • Be sure your local swimming pool has proper life saving devices, i.e. shepherds hook, life vests, rescue tubes, and other rescue and life saving equipment near the pool
  • Learn CPR/First Aid from a qualified agency such as the YMCA or Red Cross

If you entrust a babysitter or caregiver to take your children swimming be sure she has CPR/First Aid training and understands everything about swimming safety.

As you can see there is much that goes into keeping public swimming pools safe for its members and patrons.  When properly cared for and maintained they offer your family a great way to have fun.

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