As weather begins to warm and families get ready to make a splash this spring and summer, Wake County inspectors are busy inspecting more than 1,300 public swimming pools to ensure they are up to date on safety requirements and safe for swimming.
Pool opening inspections are based upon request starting April 1 to make sure they are ready for the Memorial Day weekend. The Wake County Environmental Services Department inspects pools at health clubs, neighborhoods, apartment complexes, municipal pools and other facilities. Private pools at homes are exempt from the rules.
"We approach pool inspections very seriously as it helps keep swimmers healthy and safe,” said Sig Hutchinson, Wake County Chair Commissioner. “Our inspectors do their best to make sure that pools are safe for people to enjoy the season, however, we also expect people to follow the health and safety rules to decrease any risk of illness.”
During the inspection Wake County inspectors test chlorine and pH levels, make sure emergency and safety equipment are accessible and working properly, ensure there are no trip hazards on the pool deck, verify proper signage is posted and check the pool pumps and suction covers. If any violations are found, pools are closed immediately.
In addition, all public swimming pool operators must be certified by taking Wake County and one of the certified pool operator’s courses.
Staff inspects seasonal pools at least once during the season, while year-round pools are inspected throughout the year. Wake County recommends a few basic steps that will help keep pools clean and healthy.
“Do not swim if you are sick and stay out of a pool for two days after the last time you vomited or had diarrhea,” recommended Jessica W. Sanders, Plan Review & Recreational Sanitation Program Manager. “For the little ones, take them to the bathroom every hour and change diapers in the bathroom, not poolside.”
In addition to all the requirements, swimming pools must be compliant with the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act (VGB) before permitted to operate. This is a mandatory federal requirement that became effective December 19, 2008 and established national pool drain safety requirements to reduce the entrapment and suction hazards associated with pools.