Kids and parents may want to think twice before jumping into that cool looking public pool or local watering hole. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has just issued its new study on public swimming pools, hot tubs, and other bathing facilities in the states with the most of these, including Florida, Texas, New York, Arizona, and California. After looking at health inspection reports on more than 48,000 such venues, there’s more than a casual ick factor at play.
As ABC News reports, 80 percent of public aquatic venues had at least one health violation and one in eight were closed after the inspection due to serious health and safety violations. The most common violations included issues with safety equipment and disinfectant concentration. The CDC offered sobering statistics on water safety and public facilities, saying that they are associated with illness and injury including “disease outbreaks of infectious or chemical [cause], drowning, and pool chemical–associated health events (e.g., respiratory distress or burns).” Further:
These conditions affect persons of all ages, particularly young children, and can lead to disability or even death. A total of 650 aquatic facility–associated outbreaks have been reported to CDC for 1978–2012. During 1999–2010, drownings resulted in approximately 4,000 deaths each year in the United States. Drowning is the leading cause of injury deaths in children aged 1–4 years, and approximately half of fatal drownings in this age group occur in swimming pools. During 2003–2012, pool chemical–associated health events resulted in an estimated 3,000–5,000 visits to U.S. emergency departments each year, and approximately half of the patients were aged [younger than] 18 years.
The agency has recommended that states, municipalities, and swimmers (and their parents) press officials to ensure that public facilities are hygienic, safe, and well-maintained, especially through rigorous, regular health inspections.
It’s always worth reminding parents and families about the importance of ensuring that kids, as soon as they are able, get water safety training and drown-proofing. Lawsuits, sadly, have played a part in improving pool safety, including in getting manufacturers to better protect youngsters from injury and death with equipment defects such as cleaning systems with powerful suction that can drag even able little swimmers under water.