Public Pool Safety Pointers

How safe is your child at a public pool? Follow these precautions, and she can swim safely.
Kids floating on lifesavers in swimming pool

Lots of people we know simply can't fathom their clean little pixies swimming in a city public pool, yet think nothing of tossing them into the comparable suburban one. We have no idea why or where this prejudice even comes from -- particularly since we could find nothing to indicate that a city pool is any more likely to be poorly maintained or a source of dreaded diseases.

Still, not all public pools are created equal, and those that don't observe proper maintenance procedures can be dangerous. The biggest problem is fecal matter, usually from little kids; if E. coli is involved, serious illness and even death can result. So choose a pool that is well maintained and is health and safety conscious. Look for:

  • Water that appears clear, not cloudy
  • A setup that minimizes child "incidents" -- for instance, one that has a separate kiddie pool or changing facilities near the pool
  • Water-quality monitoring on a regular schedule, and a pool with a "fecal accident response plan" (call and ask; their willingness to respond may speak volumes)

Do observe safe practices yourself. Never change your baby by a pool; don't count on a swim diaper to prevent leaks; and if Zora has diarrhea, do us all a favor and keep her out of the pool.

Excerpted from The City Parent Handbook: The Complete Guide to the Ups and Downs and Ins and Outs of Raising Young Kids in the City (Rodale, 2004) by Kathy Bishop and Julia Whitehead. Both women live, and parent, in New York City.

All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.

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