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Public pools dangers to keep in mind

Families everywhere are soon going to be heading to public pools for some fun in the sun -- if you're taking your family, exercise caution about which pools you choose to visit.

Here are some things to keep in mind:

-- A lifeguard doesn't make a pool safe. A child can drown in minutes, and drowning is the number one cause of accidental deaths for children aged 1 to 4, so don't take your eyes off your kids even if there's a lifeguard on duty. Consider investing in swimming lessons for any child over the age of 1.

-- Don't go to a pool that doesn't have the proper lifesaving equipment. There should at least be a first aid kit, a shepherd's crook, an emergency phone and a rescue ring with a rope. It's not a bad idea to find out if an automated external defibrillator is available. Pools should also be fenced in, both to keep strangers away from kids and kids in the right area away from strangers.

-- Find out how often the water is tested for contamination and when the last health inspection was done. Is the chemical balance correct? If you smell an overpowering amount of chlorine, that could be masking a bigger problem. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also recommends that parents invest in test strips that will determine if a pool's balance of chlorine or bromine is where it should be to limit bacterial infections and other problems.

-- Check out the physical appearance of the pool. If the edges of tiles are chipped, the paint is flaking away from the bottom, the pool ladders are bent or are missing screws, the drain covers aren't secure and there's generally signs that the place has seen better days, skip it. There should also be a list of pool rules prominently posted, and anybody breaking the rules should get reprimanded by the lifeguard immediately -- especially if they're shoving or running around the edges where they could injure themselves or someone else.

Public pool operators do have a responsibility to keep the premises safe for their guests. If you end up injured due to the negligent upkeep of a pool or the failure of those in charge to keep things under control, consider talking to an attorney about your case.

Source: The Tennessean, "Protect kids this summer with these water safety tips," Kelly Harbaugh, for YMCA of Middle Tennessee, March 30, 2017

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