Infant Swimming Resource Lessons and Chemicals in Pools

March 13, 2017 | Infant Swimming Resource
Tags: Controversy, ISR Certification, Lawsuits, Water Safety

“Are the chemicals in the pool you teach in safe?” “How can I make sure other pools we visit as a family are safe?” These are common (and good!) questions our offices and ISR Instructors get with relative frequency from conscientious parents either enrolling or considering enrolling their little ones in lessons with ISR. Publicity over several high-profile lawsuits ranging from drain entrapment, to pool chemical concentrations have pushed the discussion of recreational swimming for families with young children away from the greatest risk, drowning, and towards concerns about the actual structure of the pool environment.

Within the past 5 years we are aware of several lawsuits related to poorly-managed pool chemistry brought by both adults and families alleging, and in some cases proving and receiving compensatory damages, from a range of injuries spanning from minor skin irritations all the way to hair loss, severe chemical burns, and temporary loss of eyesight. While there may be a stigma associated with individuals bringing personal injury lawsuits against major companies, as the leader in survival swimming lessons for infants and young children, we are keenly aware of the real and ever-present danger unbalanced or improper pool chemicals create for children and adults alike.

At Infant Swimming Resource, we relish the opportunity to talk about pool safety with parents, but especially with well-informed parents who have done a significant amount of research; which is why, when we get a question from a concerned parent about the safety of the pool water in which their little ones are participating, or may participate in ISR lessons, we know it is likely due to research they’ve done independently and that is to be applauded. In an effort to keep abreast of reports members of our ISR families are seeing in the news, we take extra care to keep up to date on incidences of pool chemicals causing injury to swimmers in the news, most often this comes in the form of details from lawsuits brought against facilities with pools.

For example, four lawsuits have been brought against the city of Indianapolis in addition to claims being filed by 44 individuals stemming from a 2012 incident in which more than 70 people were hospitalized as a result of exposure to chlorine gas at The Garfield Aquatic Center. Specifically, according to one such lawsuit brought by the family of a young girl who was hospitalized, "the city knew or should have known that the defective condition of the pools' plumbing works involved an unreasonable risk of harm" and that the little girl "suffered bodily injuries which are continuing and may be permanent, pain, suffering and loss of enjoyment of life."

Similarly, a class action lawsuit was brought against the City of Saint Catherines in Canada as well as Aquatech Logistics Inc. as the result of an incident in which chlorine gas was produced by an alleged improper mix of chemicals. One of the representative plaintiffs recalls the incident thusly: “The gas hit me like a ton of bricks. I couldn’t breathe, my lungs felt like they were burning. I was so scared for my life and the lives of the children. I am haunted by the look of sheer panic on the face of one of the little girls.”

With the above in mind, it is absolutely reasonable for parents considering bringing their children to a pool 5 times a week for 4-6 weeks to attend ISR lessons to have questions about the safety measures in place to ensure their child’s safety, not only related to the lesson itself but the lesson environment as well...in this case? The presence of potentially harmful concentrations of chemicals in the pool water and surrounding atmosphere. Additionally, after families see the safety protocols put in place by ISR, and carried out by their ISR Instructor, we field numerous questions from parents about how to ensure a safe swim environment at locations other than the pool in which their child’s ISR lessons take place.

In the case of the ISR lesson, each ISR Instructor is required to abide by several protocols designed to assess and mitigate risks both in and out of the water prior to each day’s lesson, which include a check of the pool’s pH and general observation of the pool environment to ensure the safety of each ISR student. To standardize that level of care, each ISR Instructor is required to undergo an annual recertification class not unlike the Continuing Medical Education or “CME” program required of medical doctors to remain licensed. This annual ISR Re-Certification ensures safety protocols are top-of-mind for all ISR Instructors and that each ISR Instructor is up to date on the most recent data from sources like the Centers for Disease Control. While all of these precautions are taken in an effort to ensure that, after 8,000,000 ISR lessons, our next ISR lesson is the safest to date and are vital to a safe lesson environment for each ISR family, we are keenly aware of the fact that an ISR Instructor will not be present each time an ISR student, past or present, visits a pool.

In an effort to equip parents with the tools they need to safeguard their little ones, we advise parents to first observe the pool environment, especially if indoors where gas and vapors can be trapped on account of less than optimal ventilation. A strong smell of chlorine, watering eyes, or a burning sensation in your nose, eyes, and or throat can indicate unsafe levels of chlorine in or near the water. Though you may not experience these side effects, there could still be unsafe levels of chemicals in the pool, so prior to entering, or letting your children enter the pool, place your hand in the water- does the water feel like other pools you’ve been in? Freshly, and overchlorianted pools will feel “slippery” almost as if there is a bit of cooking oil in the water, and will smell of chlorine. An additional check is to ensure the pool is clear, that is, that you can clearly see the bottom in every area of the pool- cloudiness is a telltale indicator of a chemical imbalance/disproportion in the pool.

All of these tips, of course, are to be taken into consideration along with the pool pH test results which should be posted and/or readily available- as a reminder, according to the Centers for Disease control, the safest pH for a swimming pool is between 7.2 and 7.8 https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/pdf/swimming/resources/disinfection-team-chlorine-ph-factsheet.pdf Lastly, the results of health inspections of the pool should be available, and you can utilize a host of resources made available courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control which “...will provide you with state-specific Healthy Swimming resources, such as pool code information, beach monitoring, water quality programs, facts on recreational water illnesses (RWIs), and contacts for local public health authorities” here: https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/swimming/states.html

Though there is no way to ever be 100% sure an accident will not happen, there are a host of ways to improve the odds of an enjoyable, uneventful visit to pools even when that pool isn’t familiar to your family. Please feel free to reach out to us with any additional questions you may have, or if you have tips that work for your family, and you think other families can benefit, please share them with us via the Contact Us link at the top of this page or via Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/ISRSelfRescue/