Supplement Feature - February 2011
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The Right Safeguards

Protecting Pool Patrons, Reducing Risk

By Wynn St. Clair

Rules for Pools


6. Institute Disinfection Guidelines

It may not be required, but it's smart to have a written policy on how to respond to fecal accidents. Keep a written log of all fecal accidents, chlorine and pH level measurements and any major equipment repairs so you can respond better to any outbreaks or contamination. For detailed disinfection guidelines, go to:

7. Evaluate Hygiene Facilities

In a recent CDC survey, a majority of parents claimed to change their children's diapers at poolside because the restrooms were unclean, poorly maintained and did not have an adequate diaper-changing area.

Ask yourself a few questions. Does your aquatic center have adequate facilities? Are they close to the pool? Are they clean and well-stocked? Would you enter them barefoot? If you answered "no" to any of those questions, it's time to rethink your strategy. Better yet, ask your patrons the same questions. If they respond negatively to just one of the four, you've got some work to do. If your facility is large enough, consider hiring someone whose sole responsibility is maintaining the restrooms. You may want to consider spending the money to renovate your diaper-changing stations. You also may contemplate building diaper-changing cabanas with running water and soap near the kiddie pool. It's a terrific way to cut down on the number of diaper changes performed on lounge chairs and tables. These moves admittedly require some extra capital. However, they may prove to be good investments if they prevent an even more costly temporary closure after an outbreak.

8. Develop a Restroom Break Policy

Many aquatic facilities take a break every hour or so for chemical testing. This reassures patrons that the staff has the best intentions for their patrons' health and safety. You can take an even more proactive step toward reducing fecal accidents by referring to this period as the hourly "restroom break."

Have your staff inform parents that this is an optimal time to take their children to the restroom. If you implement this strategy, however, be sure that the facilities are clean and well-stocked with toilet paper and antibacterial soap to prevent the transmission of germs. Should parents inquire, tell them the restroom break not only cuts down on fecal accidents, it also reduces the amount of urine in the pool, which saves the disinfectant that should be killing germs.

9. Create a Special Policy for Large Groups of Young Children

If you allow large groups of small children—from a local day-care center, for example—to use your facility, have a special policy in place to reduce the chances of waterborne illness. First, require the caretakers to undergo RWI training. They should be briefed fully on many of the components listed above. Make sure they know that, just like many day-care centers, your facility does not admit children with diarrhea.

10. Post & Distribute Health Information

Don't be afraid to post signage in a conspicuous area before pool entry. The CDC recommends signs that state:

  • Don't swim when you have diarrhea.
  • Don't swallow the water.
  • Take your kids to the restroom frequently.

You also should encourage swimmers to shower with soap and water before entering the pool. This helps reduce the outbreaks by removing the invisible fecal matter from the swimmers' bottoms. A quick rinse over a swimsuit with cold water, however, is not going to do much good. Consider having hot showers available to encourage swimmers to give themselves—and their children—a more thorough cleaning before entering the pool.