Now that stay-at-home orders are being lifted across the country we are looking for the “new normal.” But what does that mean and how does that impact you and your residents as we approach pool season?
As the saying goes, “safety first,” and that clearly applies now more than ever. But is it safe? It’s important to note that the CDC has said there is no evidence to support COVID-19 being spread in pool water and while you cannot completely eliminate the risk, you can reduce exposure in order to keep you and those in your community safe, in and around your pool.
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In preparation for pool openings and aiming to better understand what our customers are dealing with during COVID-19, we have attended a number of industry webinars hosted by multiple apartment associations and CAI local chapters (Community Association Institute). Below is a shortlist we’ve compiled on items to consider when preparing for opening your pool this season.
Where to start?
- Talk to your insurance company to determine what they will cover with respect to COVID-19 related incidents. You want to know of any additional responsibility you might carry.
- Talk to your attorney to help draft additional liability waivers for pool use. Keep in mind that while certainly a good idea to make pool users aware of the risk, a waiver doesn’t exempt you from responsibility or legal action.
- Determine whether or not pool use will be for residents/members only, no guests.
- Determine what additional training is necessary for pool staff to deal with COVID-19 protocols. Remember, if your pool has lifeguards their primary responsibility is the safety of the swimmers, so extra steps will need to be outlined with respect to cleaning schedules and policing social distancing requirements.
- Determine what personal protective equipment is required for your staff as well as pool guests when not in the pool.
- Obtain signage with CDC, state as well as local recommendations for admittance. These should clearly communicate there is no assurance pool area is free of COVID-19.
- Place ground markings for social distancing keeping in mind how to arrange furniture and whether or not to even have furniture.
- Add hand sanitizing stations.
- Post hand washing instructions in the bathrooms.
- Consider closing common use areas like diving boards, slides, water fountains and ice machines, or, at a minimum posting warning signage.
- Determine best means for controlling access if you don’t have a lifeguard or key entry.
Then, ascertain what additional protocols should be incorporated to regular operations. Things like:
- Who is responsible for enforcing COVID-19 policies?
- Temperature checking for employees as well as pool users
- Cleaning and disinfecting/sanitizing routine and frequency (remember cleaning removes germs but disinfecting/sanitizing kills them.)
- Response measures if there is confirmed exposure at the pool including cleaning and sanitizing, pool closing and quarantining staff
- How to respond to a pool user who is coughing and could be making others uncomfortable
- Protocol if it is determined someone at the pool is COVID-19 positive
Finally, test your pool phones. We tend to only think about pool emergency phones when it’s getting warmer (you wouldn’t believe how many desperate calls we get from property managers in May), but pool phones are an important piece of lifesaving equipment year round. Even if you decide not to open your pool this season you need to make sure you have a pool emergency phone and that it is in proper working condition. Pool phone laws vary by state but not having one leaves you vulnerable. Keep in mind that you are looking for more than just a dial tone. Our step-by-step guide will allow you to determine if your phones are working properly.
These lists certainly aren’t all-inclusive but should at least have you thinking about decisions you need to make to adjust to the new environment. Once you have made a determination regarding what this year’s season will look like at your pool, you will want to add these to your overall pool maintenance and safety guide, CARE protocol and be sure to clearly communicate your plans to your residents.
CAI Resource Guide:
What to Know About COVID-19, Your Community and CAI – Free resources, FAQs and Best Practices