KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – In just over a week, families will be able to enjoy the unofficial start of summer at almost any outdoor pool.
Whether the pool is at a hotel, apartment complex, community park or, not even a pool, but a splash pad, inspections are a must before opening for the season, according to Ronnie Nease with the Knox County Health Department.
Nease said the department follows inspection regulations from the state, which include inspecting every commercial pool before it opens to the public, and once a month while it’s in operation.
The department sends a self-inspection checklist to every pool operator before inspection time.
“We’re looking for safety issues. Do they have a ring buoy, a shephard crook? Is the water clear? Because if the water’s milky and you can’t see the bottom of the main drain, that pool would have to do some things or close it until it’s corrected. We’re looking at chlorine levels,” Nease said.
He said the chlorine levels are very important, even for home pools. It disinfects the pool and kills any bacteria.
“We all have bacteria on our skin. We have hairspray, we have deodorant, we have sunscreen, bug repellant. We have a little bit of everything that goes into the water, so the chlorine helps clean the water up and keep it safe for us,” Nease said.
He said a commercial pool has to have a chlorine level between .5 to 3.0 ppm (parts per million). If there are a lot of swimmers, the chlorine level needs to be checked once an hour.
For splash pads, the chlorine level needs to be between 3.0 to 5.0 ppm.
“(The water) is being sprayed up into the air and it has the tendency, with the sunshine, to dissipate out quicker,” Nease said.
He said the state doesn’t have splash pad regulations. Inspections follow a Knox County ordinance.
Pool operators are supposed to check the chlorine level throughout the day to make sure it remains safe for swimmers.
For parents to check if a pool has been properly inspected themselves, every commercial pool is required to post their most recent inspection report, any violations, and the pool permit.
Nease said there are other ways for parents to know if the pool is safe.
“If you walk up to the pool and you can’t see the main drain in the pool, do not go into the pool…You can tell if the water’s cloudy or if it’s turning green or any other color,” Nease explained.
Parents can also do their part to keep the pools cleaner.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention created this safety graphic for the public.
Nease said parents should schedule bathroom breaks every hour, so children don’t have to go while swimming; children in diapers need to wear swim diapers; if a child does have an accident, report it so pool staff can add more chlorine if needed; and no one should go swimming if you have diarrhea or stomach issues.