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As summer approaches and school bells ring their last bell of the year the swimming season is here. While summer time brings memories of being in the outdoors and all that entails, parents and children need to be cautious in selecting where their children go swimming.

The first thing any person should do before allowing their child to swim in a pool is to make sure that you can see the main drain at the bottom of the pool in the deepest end.  This will insure that the pool meets the local water clarity standard.  Water clarity is vital to a swimmer’s safety and can hinder rescue efforts if a child on the bottom of the pool cannot be seen.  I have now been involved in two cases where children were unable to be rescued at the bottom of a pool because the water clarity was so poor that their lifeless bodies could not be seen for over thirty minutes.  According to swimming pool regulations across the country and as as we have in Texas, a pool shall not be opened if the main drain is not visible.  This is because at times a pool may look safe because of a blue color, however, the main drain is still not visible. This is a clear example of an unsafe pool and swimmers should not swim in a pool that the main drain is not visible. 

The next thing a person should do is make sure that the pool has safety equipment such as a shepherds hook and life ring buoy with rope so that if rescue is necessary these life saving devices are present. Swimmers should also take note of the pool and whether there are clearly marked depth markers on the pool that alert swimmers as to what part of the pool the depth is they are in.

If the main drain is not visible and/or the safety devices are not in place, notify the owner of the pool immediately and do not swim until these items are addressed by the owner or manager of the pool. Swimmers should also use their best judgement in deciding what end of the pool to swim in.  Weak swimmers should use floating devices and life jackets if necessary and stay in the shallow part of the pool. Parents should also be mindful of where their children are at all times around pools and spas in the event they fall in the pool so they can be quickly rescued.

The Texas Department of Health and Safety Standards for Pools and Spas governs the rules for all pools in Texas.  Each state has their own set of rules, all states require that the main drain be visible at all times and that safety equipment be present and in good working condition.  All commercial pools and spas such as those of hotels, apartment complexes, water parks, and resorts must strictly adhere to the state rules governing pools.

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