It is a fairly common convention that if you inspect aquatic facilities, you don’t usually swim there. And, if you have ever tried to find aquatic facility inspection scores from the local health department, you know that they can be difficult to find, mostly because very few post them. Going on vacation, or even to a neighborhood pool often involves bringing along your own test to check the chemistry of the pool water. And, let’s not get started on public whirlpool spas!
Yet public swimming pools are more popular than ever. They provide opportunities for exercise and family excursions and are often located right in the neighborhood. Most parents value having a local pool for when the kids need to get out of the house (and you need them out of the house) and get some exercise. Kids’ swim teams are also continuing to grow across the country, both in and out of schools. Or if you are rehabbing from an injury or surgery, where are you told to exercise? A pool. So what can be done to improve the safety and our confidence in these facilities? A good start to reducing the number of closures associated with imminent health hazards is adopting all or part of the CDC’s newly released updated Model Aquatic Health Code (MAHC). The MAHC is a comprehensive guide that covers everything from planning and designs to training and inspections, and the second edition incorporates suggested changes by our colleagues in environmental health and aquatic facilities. The MAHC not only details an extensive inspection process, it provides explanations and accountability at every level - from planning approval to facility operators. It recognizes that public health and aquatic facilities are not a one-person show. A community that understands their part in healthy swimming is needed. And this is something we can all play a role in. Whether as EH professionals, public pool users, residents of a neighborhood with a pool, we have the right to ask for healthier aquatic facilities for all to safely enjoy..