It's summer time – are our pools as safe as they should be?

poolIt is obvious by walking outside that summer is upon us.  The stifling heat makes us want to find the nearest pool to cool off, but are they safe?  Action News recently reported on the  plethora of public pools in Duval County and found out that they may not be as safe as you think.   Jeff Clarkson with Florida Bonded Pools deals firsthand with water every day.  He was interviewed on how Jacksonville’s pools really stack up.  “Each facility is required to have an operating permit that’s renewed every year and inspections are made. If the pool is not kept up to standards, they can shut the pool down,” he explained.  The Department of Health is responsible for inspections. So they pulled a list of 2,742 local public pools that were shut down in the last two years. The top violations were for low chlorine and pH levels, and damaged tiles or pool finish.
Action News also pulled reports for the top three pools with five violations or more at any given time.  The list includes:

  • Best Western Baldwin
  • Fountain Oaks Apartments on 103rd
  • Lakeside Apartments on Southside Boulevard

Low chlorine and pH levels are not the only concern to have when swimming.  Several south Florida children have been in the news recently for getting injured in pools due to faulty wiring which led to electrical shocks.  At a pool in Hialeah, Florida,  three little girls touched the pool hand railing and were shocked to where they could not move.  Fortunately, they had quick acting relatives who were able to pool them out and seek medical attention.  A preliminary investigation pointed to unconnected ground wires in the pool pump house.  The wires were supposed to take electrical charges to the ground, away from the pool.
Crime scene photos show the wires hanging in the air rather than heading toward the ground.  A local news station reported the pool passed a 40 year inspection last year.  Also, they learned that the pool passed two health department inspections last year.  The inspection forms go well beyond the health of the water, but have boxes  and requirements that the pool be up to electrical code.  The pool passed.  But just four months later, the incident happened“which brings about a lot more questions about the integrity of these inspections.
A couple days ago, First Coast News reported on avoiding pool electrocutions.  They interviewed Mike Paluszyski of Jacksonville-based Palace Pools.  “There are always ground wires and bond wires that are attached to the motors and heaters and things that like and sometimes an unqualified person can come in and change a piece of equipment out,” said Paluszyski.  Paluszyski has been installing pools for thirty years. He says shock like this happens when the bond and ground wires are not in place- causing an open circuit. So, what should you know before pool season gets into full swing?  Paluszyski says, “Homeowners should just be aware that those little copper wires that are on their swimming pool pumps and on their heaters…if they are not connected…they need to be reconnected.”  Also, make sure clamps are tight. Paluszyski says your best bet before you splash is to call a licensed electrician. It will run you between $100 and $200 dollars in most Jacksonville locations.  “$150 dollars is small price to pay to keep you safe,” said Paluszyski.  According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, 13 people have died from electrocutions in swimming pools between 2002 and 2011. Experts recommend that you look for corroded stainless steel on the surface of the pool- that is sign of potential electrical problems.
For the most part, the state of Florida has the safest record in the country for swimming pools.  The City of Jacksonville’ s preseason pool season runs from May 24 to June 1 — weekends and Memorial Day only. The official season kicks off June 7.  Track the safety records and cleanliness of the pools in your neighborhood through the Department of Health’s website.

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