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Coronavirus And Your Upcoming Pool Season: 11 Things To Consider

May 14, 2020

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UPDATE: On May 20th, 2020, the CDC released their guidance on how to operate pools using proper precautions to hinder the spread of COVID-19. The guidance corroborates with the guidance in this article and expands upon it even further in certain areas. Click here to read to the guidance from the CDC

 

The summer season is nearly upon us and the looming uncertainties that accompany many Coronavirus response protocols have affected the pool industry as well. Our health departments and governing bodies have yet to release any protocols for operating your pools, and this uncertainty may be causing you stress when trying to prepare for opening. The good news is we can study response protocols in other industries and apply many of them to our industry. In this article we'll be exploring some of the data driven practices we can use at our properties to best protect our guests and staff when we get the green light to open. 
Following The Science
Though we don't know exactly what the health departments will require in regard to your pool area, there are a few practices we can enact at our pools this summer by following the scientific data we have available. In This article we'll explore the following: 
  1. Social Distancing
  2. Face Masks
  3. Changing Spaces
  4. Signage and Announcements
  5. Pool Chemistry
  6. Lane Separation
  7. Diving/Splash Area Queuing 
  8. Flotation Devices, toys, etc. 
  9. Deck Furniture
  10. Staffing/Lifeguards
  11. Local Requirements

So, let's dive in and explore what our summer season could look like. 

 

Social Distancing and Swimming Pools

The best way to think about executing social distancing requirements in your pool and pool area is to first understand the "social distancing circle." The social distancing circle is the space around each guest that is equal to 6' around all 360 degrees of a person. The way we calculate this is as follows:

6' x 6' x 3.14 =113 square feet

So, from here we know that social distancing requires that we have one person per 113 square feet. Now we can measure the square footage of our entire pool area. For example, let's say we have a pool area that is 65 feet long and 45 feet wide.

65' x 45' = 2,925 square feet 

Now all we have to do is take our square footage area of the pool area and divide it by our social distancing circle square footage of 113'.

2,925' ÷ 113' = 25 Total guests allowed in the area.

This calculation allows for people to enjoy the pool and pool area without violating social distancing requirements. But social distancing is only one part of the puzzle. We also need to take some other factors into account. 

 

Face Masks

Many counties and states are requiring face masks to be worn in all public areas, and many times this can include pool areas. For lounging by the pool wearing a face mask might cause you to get a funky face tan, but that's really the only annoyance. Wearing a face mask into the pool is another story. 

Though it is annoying, it is the opinion of Pool Training Academy that this will be required in many areas, except for inside the pool itself. The CDC recommends that masks not be worn inside the water as it is more difficult to breathe through a wet mask. 

Face masks will likely also be required by staff and lifeguards as well. Making sure you are providing the proper training for the wearing of these masks on your staff members will also be a crucial factor in safely opening your pool as well. 

*Please note that masks are not a requirement in all areas. We write this article to include masks in an attempt to accommodate as many diverse pool scenarios as possible. 

 

Changing Spaces

Changing spaces and restrooms are one of the areas that seem to cause the most controversy and confusion with an opening strategy. There are a few things to consider with these spaces:

  • Social Distancing  Making sure that you are taking the social distancing circle square footage and dividing your changing space or bathroom square footage can give you a good idea as to capacity for these spaces.
  • Lockers  Spacing 6' between lockers is a good way to ensure proper social distancing. Some properties may even opt for not providing lockers and instead require guests to come suited up and ready for swimming
  • Toilet Facilities  Spacing 6' between available urinals is also recommended. 
  • Showers  Shower facility square footage should be measured and divide by the social distance circle dimensions
  • Cleaning  Making sure attendants are regularly disinfecting these areas is also highly recommended.
  • Stocking Sanitary Needs  Keeping ample amounts of soap and paper towels will further encourage proper hand washing hygiene in your pool area. 
  • Disinfectant  It is also recommended that some form of hand sanitizer be provided for guests to use. 

Again, some may choose to forego any sort of changing room all together and instead only allow guests to use the shower and restrooms.

 

Signage & Announcements

Social Distancing signage should be in place throughout the pool area, changing rooms, restrooms, and employee work areas to remind people how to stay as safe as possible while working and lounging. 

It is also recommended that somewhere a warning is posted about the risk of COVID-19 transmission while in public areas. Though you as an operator are doing everything within your power to keep people safe, it is also good to remind them that nowhere is 100% risk-free.

For those who have a PA system it is recommended to announce reminders about social distancing and practicing good hygiene throughout the day. 

 

Pool Chemistry

Making sure your chlorine levels are between 3.75ppm-4.5ppm is crucial in ensuring your pool water is effectively killing off any COVID-19 that may be breathed onto the water surfaces. Please note that according to the CDC there is no evidence whatsoever that COVID-19 can be transmitted through water. For more information about chlorines effects on COVID-19 click here

 

Lap Lane Separation

Swimming laps is a great way to recreate and is a huge competitive sport. Ensuring that you are providing 6' of distancing between lap swimmers is crucial to meet coronavirus standards. We recommend simply opening every other lane to ensure this distance.

Please also note that traditional swim meets or competitions are likely to be cancelled for this summer. But, many competitive clubs are opting to modify their operation by doing "remote meets" where swimmers best times are recorded and compared. This obviously isn't ideal, but it might have to be the case for the upcoming summer season. 

 

Queuing Areas

Any queuing areas for diving boards, bathrooms, or any other services should have marked social distancing squares on the deck or ground to ensure that people are following social distancing measures.

 

Flotation Devices, toys, etc. 

It is highly recommended that you do not provide any communal or shared flotation devices at the property. Porous pool noodles and the like can potentially be a risk factor for transmission if not properly sanitized between users. Guests who bring their own flotation devices or toys should not share with anyone outside their family unit. 

 

Deck Furniture

Deck furniture is another complicated topic. There are various types of furniture found by the side of pool, some allowing for more social distancing measures than others. Let's explore the following options.

Lounge Chairs

Pool Training Academy recommends that you space your lounge chairs 6' apart from one another and tape boundary lines around the lounge chairs so it can be determined that this 6' requirement is being met. No moving of the lounge chairs. Finally, only those who live in the same household may share a lounge chair space. 

 

Tabletops 

It is recommended that table are only used by those living in the same household. Under no circumstances should anyone share these spaces with those not in the same household. 

 

Disinfection

We also highly recommend that you provide disinfecting wipes to guests to wipe down lounge chairs, deck chairs, tables, or any other surfaces they may come in contact with while visiting the pool. Some properties may also opt to use a spray disinfectant solution over the deck furniture sporadically to ensure disinfection as well. 

*Note: There is scientific evidence that UV light exposure is an effective way to inactivate COVID-19 as well. This UV exposure can come from sunlight. But for an added layer of safety and protection we recommend manual disinfection as well. 

 

Staffing/Lifeguards

Ensuring that your staff and lifeguards are safe is paramount. You can achieve this by following social distancing measures, mask wearing, and proper hand washing. Also consider limiting the number of lifeguards allowed in the office/shack at one time as well.  


Local Requirements

It's important to remember that all the advice we are sharing in this article is based off of scientific data, health measures in place in industries similar to the pool industry, and common sense, but it is of utmost importance that you remember to follow your local and state requirements, when they are released, more than anything else. 

 

Become A Professional Pool Operator

Navigating the waters of operation your pool safely and effectively can be difficult even when not operating under pandemic circumstances. To safely operate and maintain an aquatic facility it truly does take more training than you can find on YouTube or read in an article like this. Thankfully you have options to help you become more knowledgeable about how to keep your swimmers safe. One of these options is taking a CPO Class with Pool Training Academy. Becoming CPO® Certified is one of the best ways to truly become a pool expert. And in many states this certification is required to operate a pool or spa. Pool Training Academy is the #1 CPO® Certification provider in the world and our classes are specially tailored to be fun, engaging, and most of all relevant to your needs. Click here to sign up for the next class in your area. We also now offer fully online classes for those who may prefer to learn from the comfort of their own home or office. We're hoping this article is helpful in getting you on the right track toward operating your pool effectively during this new season in pool industry history.




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