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How to Socially Distance this Swim Season

While it is unknown when or if public pools will be open for the 2020 season, residential backyard pools are open and ready for summer fun! Still, bathers need to be prepared to practice safe social distancing while enjoying the pool and pool area. CDC guidelines recommend limiting close distance with those outside your home and maintaining a six foot social distance with others.
Go the Distance
If you are to maintain six foot social distancing, that means each bather needs a 113 square foot circle around them in the pool. A pool’s square footage is measured by length multiplied by width. A typical residential rectangular pool measuring 32 feet x 16 feet has a square footage of 512 square feet. With a six (6’) foot by six (6’) foot box around them of 36 square, that is a maximum of 14 people in the pool while maintaining their six feet of social distancing. Here are some tips on how to distance in the pool.
  • If you have a slide or diving board, you want to ensure that bathers are not standing in line waiting to use it. One bather starts and finishes use, before the next one approaches the equipment to use it. You can even consider marking off proper distance for people in line. Many commercial sites are considering closing slides and diving boards as people will touch the same rails. Extra disinfection would be warranted.
  • Pool toys and floats should not be shared. It would be best if bathers bring and use their own pool toys and floats.
  • Contact games should be prohibited. This includes games like “Marco Polo”, throw stick retrieval, water volleyball and basketball. Timed races are a great way to compete or play while still maintaining social distance.
Pool Area
As always, and especially now, bathers should shower off before entering the pool and after exiting. Soap showers are recommended. Request that your guests shower before they arrive. If you do not have an outdoor shower, make a hose with fresh water available for rinsing off.
You can suggest your guests bring their own snacks. Sharing communal food may allow for direct human contact amongst guests which is not recommended. Also, you can suggest that they bring their own chairs to relax and enjoy those treats poolside.
You don’t want your guests to pee in the pool, so you will need to make accommodations so that your guests can have access to a restroom. If you do not have an outdoor facility, designate one restroom you have as a guest restroom. Make sure that you sanitize it before and after the guests use it. It is best to select the restroom closest to the pool and with the least amount of access to your home. If your guests are neighbors, you may want to suggest they use their own.
You want to make sure guests have access to hand sanitizer, masks (when outside of the water), and gloves when in the pool area, along with access to a trash receptacle. If you are not supplying them, ensure your guests know prior to their arrival that they need to bring these items with them. Also, make sure they bring their own towels.
Social Distance does not mean No Supervision
Per the CDC “Drowning is responsible for more deaths among children 1-4 than any other cause except congenital anomalies (birth defects). Among those 1-14, fatal drowning remains the second-leading cause of unintentional injury-related death behind motor vehicle crashes.” Constant Adult Supervision is still, and always, required. If you have a non-swimmer, they need to have their parent or guardian within arm’s reach of them within the pool. And, someone needs to be designated a water watcher while anyone uses the pool no matter what their swimming ability.
Outdoor Fun
The CDC says there is no evidence that COVID-19 can spread to people through the chlorinated water used in pools, hot tubs, or water playgrounds. Proper operation and disinfection of pools, hot tubs, and water playgrounds should kill the virus that causes COVID-19. If you or your family is feeling ill or showing symptoms, you should not invite others over to use your pool and pool area. If your guests are feeling ill or showing symptoms, they also should not come to use your pool and pool area. Outdoors is the best place we can social distance and if you do it properly, safely, and cleanly, the pool can be a welcome reprieve from home quarantine.

*This information is obtained from the Certified Pool and Spa Operator Handbook. This information may not be applicable to your pool based on your pool type and location. One should reference all applicable regulations and standards for your facility.

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