Three Ways to Reduce Liability at Your Pool
Tuesday, January 12, 2021
Swimming pools in multifamily complexes, neighborhood HOAs and hotels are a prized amenity. But because many of these pools are smaller than a municipal pool and are on private property, they often fall into different categories of local safety requirements. In many instances, these regulations are less strict than at public municipalities. Owners and management companies need to ensure these pools are as safe as possible. Here are three ways to maintain a safe environment at smaller facilities.
Start With Fencing
Proper fencing is a critical to prevent drowning accidents. “By having fencing, it puts a deterrent because aquatic venues are attractive nuisances that people are going to want to get in,” says Peter Beireis, senior recreation supervisor for the city of Newark, California.
In most jurisdictions, a barrier is required to protect children and animals from gaining entry to the pool area without an adult. Often, this is a fence that is at least four feet high, with a self-locking, self-latching gate. The fence cannot have hand or footholds on it. Openings should be no wider than 4 inches apart. In addition, no more than four inches of space should be between the bottom of the fence and the ground, to prevent a child from climbing underneath the fence.
Today, pool fencing has been designed to blend in with the landscaping, while maintaining its commercial needs. Fortress’ V2 Commercial Ornamental Fencing, for example, comes with several aesthetic options and is configured with an optional Assurance panel that feature a 3-inch air space for increased safety.
Maintain Water Quality
Because semi-public pools do not always fall under the vigorous requirements of public pools, they may not be tested as often. For that reason, one-third of swimming pool outbreaks have come from hotel pools and hot tubs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The three diseases topping the list are cryptosporidium, pseudomonas, and Legionnaires’ disease.
“The rule of thumb is multiple testing throughout the day, as well as get automated control systems,” Beireis advises. The best system is one that automatically sends an alert to a manager when chemicals fall outside parameters. And if they do, the pool and spa should be shut down until the pool chemicals have been adjusted and have had time to circulate through the water. Managers should review the CDC’s Healthy Swimming website for more information.
Hotel, apartment and HOA staff should be thoroughly instructed on safety prevention and maintenance of a swimming pool to help decrease liability. Beireis suggests that a maintenance and cleaning schedule should be set up and followed. Make sure that items such as hand rails are inspected regularly, that decks are scrubbed, emergency phones are connected and working, lights function, fence gates are latching properly, and safety equipment is in good condition. Regularly check drains, skimmers, filters, chlorinators to make sure they are also functioning correctly. Lastly, ensure that proper signage is visible and clear.
Set up trainings regularly to make sure they fully understand the importance of these safety checks and create a list for staff to easily go through. Have staff write the date and time of the last check next to each item. Also train staff to recognize when the pool must be shut down. Advise homeowners and hotel guests about the rules of the pool and provide statistics and information about what to do in case of an emergency. The more people are aware, the better, Beireis says.
“There are just so many elements you can use even on a base level that helps prevents accidents or any tragedy from happening as long as people are diligent,” he says.