By Jim Beasley
You take your first step up and onto the diving board, a few carefully measured steps toward the end, bounce once or twice, soar freely into the air for a brief moment, then slice the surface of the cool, clear, clean water.
Swimming is the perfect way to spend a hot summer day in South Carolina. And you can thank DHEC’s Recreational Waters Program for the cleanliness and clarity of water at your local public swimming pool.
Our inspectors begin their visits to approximately 6,800 public swimming pools statewide beginning May 18, ensuring the pools’ chemicals are managed properly and other safety measures are being taken. This schedule includes checking any pool that is used by the public — municipal pools, summer camps, hotels and water parks. About 40% of the state’s public pools are along the coast.
But the 2015 swimming season brings a new bit of technology to this process, as DHEC’s inspectors are now equipped with electronic tablets to record their pool inspection results. No longer will it be necessary to complete a paper report and send a copy for the pool operator. Instead, DHEC staff will email the reports, ensuring that everyone involved in the operation and care of the pool receives a digital copy of the results. Less paper; better for the environment.
How We Inspect
When a DHEC staffer visits a public pool, the inspection involves testing water quality for appropriate chemical balance, making sure all required safety equipment is present and meets required standards, and making sure the overall operation and maintenance of the pool is in compliance with state regulations. Public pools are required to have a trained operator in charge — someone who knows the requirements and is able to keep the pool maintained for the safety of swimmers and staff.
Sometimes, our inspectors find problems indicating the pool is out of compliance and potentially endangering users. In the event that DHEC must close a public pool due to significant deficiencies found in the inspection, the electronic summary will indicate whether the pool may reopen as soon as corrections are made or that a re-inspection is required first. The objective is to help the pool operators make corrections in a timely manner so that the pool can reopen safely as soon as possible.
There are also some steps you can take to keep your swimming experience safe. Here are few tips to keep in mind:
- Don’t allow pool water into your mouth or swallow it.
- Shower before swimming and wash your hands after using the bathroom or changing a diaper.
- Take children for bathroom breaks and check diapers frequently. Change diapers in the bathroom — not at poolside. Never swim when you have diarrhea.
- Watch children closely. They can drown in just seconds, and do so without much noise. Don’t rely on “water wings” or other inflatables in place of a life jacket or preserver.
- Always use sunscreen (at least SPF with both UVA and UVB protection) to guard against sunburn.
Follow these sensible steps and every splash will be a good one! To learn more about DHEC’s swimming pool and recreational waters program, please visit our website.