Feature Article - April 2008
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Life Preservers

Meeting the Challenges of 21st Century Aquatic Risk

By Hayli Morrison

Clearing Things Up

While many factors can contribute to a drowning incident, many safety programs underemphasize the importance of water clarity.

A March 28, 2007 article in the Los Angeles Times pointed out concern among safety experts at the number of drownings that occurred in a supervised setting. All of these drownings occurred in swimming pools that were described as murky and cloudy. When you can't see beneath the surface, you can't see patrons who may be in trouble.

There are three primary reasons to focus on water clarity in your aquatic facility:

Appearance or Aesthetics: None of your patrons will find murky water appealing. In fact, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises patrons of public aquatic facilities to swim only if the water looks "clear, clean and blue."

Disease Prevention: Cloudy water can indicate a lack of germ-fighting disinfectant in the pool, which means water-borne illnesses could be gaining a foothold.

Swimmer Safety: When you can't see swimmers beneath the water's surface, accidents and drownings can occur. The sooner struggling swimmers are spotted, the greater the chance of rescuing them in time to prevent serious injury or death.

Public aquatic facilities are generally regulated to maintain water clarity, and inspectors should and will close a pool if the floor drain is not clearly visible from the top deck. But inspectors are not omnipresent.

Be sure to train your entire staff to keep an eye on the water condition of your pool, and ask swimmers to leave the water when a problem arises.