CDC warns of health concerns at public pools

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COLUMBIA – Residents in mid-Missouri are preparing to get back into the water as local pools are set to open in time for Memorial Day, but experts warn water conditions could be more dangerous than many are lead to believe. 

Michele Hlavsa, the chief of CDC’s Healthy Swimming Program, has worked extensively with the agency to suggest healthy swimming habits when using public pools and hot tubs. She said checking water conditions of pools is just one way to stay safe.

“Before we go out to eat, we check out the inspection scores of a restaurant, so before we jump into the pool this summer we should be checking out the inspection scores of the pool” Hlavsa said. 

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recently released a study of 84,187 routine inspections on 48,632 public pools and hot tubs, and found one in every eight inspections resulted in the immediate closure because of serious health and safety violations.

The study said almost 80 percent of all inspected public aquatic venues had at least one violation against them.

Jonathan Liddle, a Columbia resident and father of four children, is a heavy user of pools in the Columbia area. As a parent, he said, the results are scary.

“It concerns me. I know that our neighborhood pool has been shut down a couple different times and it was because we couldn’t even see the bottom of the pool. If someone went underwater you couldn’t even tell, and that was scary.” Liddle said.

Hlavsa and the CDC recommend completing your own inspection.

“When you get to the pool, check to make sure you can see the drain at the bottom of the deep end. Clear water allows lifeguards and other swimmers to see swimmers underwater who might need assistance. You should also check drain covers to make sure they are not lose or broken.” Hlavsa said.

Columbia city pools will open for summer on May 28.