Pool inspections in South Carolina lead to thousands of health violations

Charleston, S.C. (WCBD) — Before you take a dip in your local pool, health experts warn you could be opening yourself up to germs.

It’s what you can’t see that can have the biggest impact on your health.

Through a records request to DHEC, reporters in South Carolina learned DHEC staff conducted 12,424 inspections in 2015. DHEC inspectors closed more than 3,600 pools.

The staff conducted a total of 1,622 inspections for open pools and spas in Charleston, Berkeley, and Dorchester Counties. Of those inspections, 25% resulted in a closure.

According to a spokesman at DHEC, the most common closure for open public swimming pools and spas in South Carolina was for non-compliant levels of chlorine. A total of 2,012 were found non-compliant in 2015 around the state. Of those, 221 inspections found chlorine wasn’t balanced between Charleston, Berkeley, and Dorchester Counties.

Keeping Pools Clean

Local Certified Pool Operator, Pat Provost, told the reporters chemical balance is paramount.

“Chlorine is a critical sanitizer for pools,” Provost, who runs Blue Waters Commercial Pools, said.

Provost has been a Certified Pool Operator for 25 years in the Lowcountry. He says the weather and the number of swimmers are the biggest challenges to keeping pools balanced.

DHEC requires pool chemicals to be checked every day and logged at the pool. A private Certified Pool Operator, like Provost, must sign off on inspections at least three times per week.

DHEC inspectors also make rounds at public pools and spas.

If the pool isn’t maintained properly, it can make you very sick.

“A pool can look clear and beautiful and still have dangers inside of it,” MUSC’s Dr. Kathy Lehman-Huskamp explained.

She told reporters the two most common problems are diarrhea and ear infections.

What you can do

To protect your children, she suggests showering before and after a dip; taking frequent bathroom breaks so children aren’t urinating in the pool, and drying out children’s ears.

Dr. Lehman-Huskamp warned parents to be vigilant and teach children not to run on the wet surfaces around the pool. She said to talk with your children about diving in shallow water and finally she urged parents to watch children closely.

According to the CDC, from 2005-2014, there was an average of 3,536 fatal unintentional drownings annually in the United States. That is roughly ten deaths per day.

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