In case you thought public pools were totally clean, a new study confirms quite the opposite.
Every year, thousands of public pools, hot tubs and water playgrounds are forced to close due to serious health a safety violations, according to a new CDC report.
The data was collected in the five states with the most public pools and hot tubs: Arizona, California, Florida, New York and Texas.
Data was reviewed on 84,187 routine inspections of 48,632 venues. Here's what the found:
- Most inspections of public aquatic venues (almost 80 percent) identified at least one violation.
- 1 in 8 inspections resulted in immediate closure because of serious health and safety violations.
- 1 in 5 kiddie/wading pools were closed—the highest proportion of closures among all inspected venues.
- The most common violations reported were related to improper pH (15 percent), safety equipment (13 percent), and disinfectant concentration (12 percent).
"No one should get sick or hurt when visiting a public pool, hot tub, or water playground," said Beth Bell, M.D., M.P.H., director of CDC's National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases. "That's why public health and aquatics professionals work together to improve the operation and maintenance of these public places so people will be healthy and safe when they swim."
Healthy and Safe Swimming Week begins on May 23, 2016. CDC encourages swimmers to help protect themselves from getting sick or hurt at pools or hot tubs.
When visiting public or private pools, swimmers and parents of young swimmers can complete their own inspection using a short and easy checklist that will identify some of the most common health and safety problems:
- Use a test strip (available at most superstores or pool-supply stores) to determine if the pH and free chlorine or bromine concentration are correct. CDC recommends:
- Free chlorine concentration of at least 1 ppm in pools and at least 3 ppm in hot tubs/spas.
- Free bromine concentration of at least 3 ppm in pools and at least 4 ppm in hot tubs/spas.
- pH of 7.2–7.8.
- Make sure the drain at the bottom of the deep end is visible. Clear water allows lifeguards and other swimmers to see swimmers underwater who might need help.
- Check that drain covers appear to be secured and in good repair. Swimmers can get trapped underwater by a loose or broken drain cover.
- Confirm that a lifeguard is on duty at public venues. If not, check whether safety equipment like a rescue ring with rope or pole is available.