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FAQs: Public Swimming Pools

What constitutes a public swimming pool?

"Public swimming pool" is defined in NC General Statute 130A-280 as "any structure, chamber, or tank containing an artificial body of water used by the public for swimming, diving, wading, recreation, or therapy, regardless of whether a fee is charged for its use.  The term includes municipal, school, hotel, motel, apartment, boarding house, athletic club, or other membership facility pools and spas."

The definition specifically excludes pools at single family dwellings, if used only by the residents of the dwelling and their guests; therapeutic pools used in physical therapy programs operated by medical facilities licensed by the Department of Human Resources or operated by a licensed physical therapist; and therapeutic chambers drained, cleaned, and refilled after each individual use.

It should be noted that residential swimming pools at homes that offer bed and breakfast accommodations may not be used by paying guests as the pools do not generally meet the commercial pool construction requirements.

What signs are required at my public pool?

Sign requirements for swimming pools are contained in 15A NCAC (North Carolina Administrative Code) 18A Sections .2530(c) and (d), Section .2523, and in the Mecklenburg County Health Ordinance, Rules Governing Public Swimming Pools, Section 7(e).  These rules require the following:

"(c) When a swimming pool does not have at least one lifeguard on duty, a sign shall be posted which has clearly legible letters of at least four inches (10 cm) in height stating: "WARNING-NO LIFEGUARD ON DUTY."  In addition there shall be signs stating: "CHILDREN SHOULD NOT USE THE SWIMMING POOL WITHOUT ADULT SUPERVISION", and: "ADULTS SHOULD NOT SWIM ALONE". Wading pools which do not have a lifeguard inside the wading pool enclosure shall have a sign posted stating "WARNING NO LIFEGUARD ON DUTY". Such signs shall be mounted permanently.

(d) A sign prohibiting pets and glass containers in the pool area shall be provided."

Section .2523(e) of the state rules states "Notice shall be provided in the pool area that no diving is allowed in areas of the pool less than 5 feet (1.5 meters) deep."

The local swimming pool rules specify:

"A telephone shall be installed in the pool area that is readily accessible anytime the pool is being used. The telephone shall be capable of directly dialing 911. Instructions shall be posted by the telephone stating IN CASE OF EMERGENCY DIAL 911. The name and address of the facility shall be clearly posted on or near the telephone."

The signage requirements for public spas/whirlpools are contained in 15A NCAC 18A Sections .2532(15) and (17) and in the local rule section 7(e).  These rules specify:

"(15) Where water temperature exceeds 90° Fahrenheit (32° C), a caution sign shall be mounted adjacent to the entrance to the spa or hot tub. It shall contain the following warnings in letters at least 2 inch in height:

-Pregnant women; elderly persons, and persons suffering from heart disease, diabetes, or high or low blood pressure should not enter the spa/hot tub without prior medical consultation and permission from their doctor.
-Do not use the spa/hot tub while under the influence of alcohol, tranquilizers, or other drugs that cause drowsiness or that raise or lower blood pressure.
-Do not use alone.
-Unsupervised use by children is prohibited.
-Enter and exit slowly.
-Observe reasonable time limits (that is, 10-15 minutes), then leave the water and cool down before returning for another brief stay.
-Long exposure may result in nausea, dizziness, or fainting.
-Keep all breakable objects out of the area.

(17) A sign shall also be posted requiring a shower for each user prior to entering the spa or hot tub and prohibiting oils, body lotion, and minerals in the water."

The local requirement for a working telephone in the pool area with instructions to dial 911 in the event of an emergency and the requirement to have the name and address of the facility posted by the telephone applies to a spa/whirlpool as well.

What training is required for my pool operator?

The requirements for pool operator training are contained in 15 NCAC 18A Section .2537(c).  This regulation states:

"The owner of a public swimming pool shall provide for the operation of the pool by a person or persons who shall be responsible to the owner for operation, maintenance, pool safety and recordkeeping. The pool owner shall maintain documentation that the person responsible for operating the pool has been trained on pool equipment operation, disease and injury prevention, pool water chemistry and regulatory requirements for public swimming pools. A pool and spa operator certificate issued by the National Swimming Pool Foundation or other organization which provides training on those subjects shall be accepted as meeting this requirement.

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