A well-maintained pool is a safe and great place to exercise.
What makes a well-maintained pool? For indoor pools, it is as easy as ABC:
• Adequate air exchange and circulation.
• Bather (swimmer) load and their habits.
• Chemical balance of the water – this is critical.
Having a certified pool operator (CPO) on board to help keep your pool clean, check the chemicals and adjust their application as needed can help. A CPO is a must for large community and public pools.
Most pools (public and private) use chlorine, bromine or chlorine derived from salt as a disinfectant. In South Carolina, the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) sets regulations concerning the chemical balance.
For a pool to comply certain levels must be maintained.
For example, free chlorine (FC) is the amount of chlorine available in the water to disinfect contaminants. FC must be between 1 and 8 parts per million. PH must be between 7.0 and 7.8.
Outside of these parameters, DHEC states that public swimming pools are to be closed immediately by the owner or his/her designated agent.
Enough of the technical stuff. What can cause the chemical balance to change?
A common culprit is bather (swimmer) load – or number of persons in the pool – and habits. Not showering before entry into a pool or spa can wreak havoc with the chemicals. Many spas and hot tubs are approximately 3,000 gallons or less.
All it takes is two to four people to hop in who just finished playing a sport or workout – just taking off their shoes and socks and hopping right in. This behavior can use up free chlorine and change the PH.
Where do these folks go next? If a swimming pool is close by, they might jump in to cool off, throwing off the chemical balance there too.
This increases the cost and amount of chemicals used to keep the water safe.
It also creates chemical irritants called “chloramines” that can cause eye irritation, skin and breathing problems. You generally will not have a noticeable chlorine smell in a well-maintained pool.
You can have a pool company come three times a day and still have issues if a good number of people foul the water.
Most folks do not have experience in a well-maintained aquatic facility, such as a collegiate aquatic facility. They just do not know the “why” of it all.
Most people I have met in the communities I have visited in the Lowcountry care about their pools and facilities and their neighbors. So, once most people are made aware of the “why,” they happily comply with showering just before entry into a pool (after all, they are going to get wet anyway).
Something like this really should not need policing. Adequate signage and a little education can go a long way. Hot and cold water available at pool showers is a common-sense necessity.
If you visit the CDC and DHEC websites, you will see they recommend showering just before entering a pool or spa. Ask any CPO and they will recommend the same. Below are some pool rules that can be posted and used at any community.
Mike Farnham is a nationally and state certified pool operator and owner of Low Country Pool and Spa Consulting LLC. Consultations are free. firstname.lastname@example.org