Pool season is here and we want to make sure you have a fun and safe summer in and around the water.
You’ll be happy to know that our Health Department inspects hundreds of public and community pool facilities annually and issues pool permits to help ensure that your local pool is safe.
If you’re heading to the pool soon, here are a few things to keep in mind.
Although swimming offers a number of health benefits, injuries can happen at pools and other recreational water venues. In fact, drowning is the leading cause of death in Virginia among children ages 1-4. Our Fire and Rescue Department offers the following advice to stay safe.
- Swim in designated areas supervised by lifeguards.
- Always swim with a buddy; do not allow anyone to swim alone. Even at a public pool or a lifeguarded beach, use the buddy system.
- Ensure that everyone in the family learns to swim well. Enroll in age-appropriate Red Cross water orientation and Learn-to-Swim courses.
- Never leave a young child unattended near water and do not trust a child’s life to another child; teach children to always ask permission to go near water.
- Always stay within arm’s reach of young children and avoid distractions when supervising children around water.
- Establish rules for your family and enforce them without fail. For example, set limits based on each person’s ability, do not let anyone play around drains and suction fittings. Do not allow swimmers to hyperventilate before swimming under water or have breath-holding contests.
- Avoid alcohol use. Alcohol impairs judgment, balance and coordination. It also affects swimming and diving skills and reduces the body’s ability to stay warm.
Recreational water illnesses are caused by germs spread by swallowing, breathing in mists or having contact with contaminated water in swimming pools, hot tubs/spas, water play areas, interactive fountains, lakes, rivers or oceans. These may include diarrhea, vomiting, stomach cramps, loss of appetite, weight loss and fever.
These healthy swimming habits suggested by our Health Department can lower your chance of getting sick.
- Don’t swim when you have diarrhea.
- Shower with soap before you start swimming.
- Take a rinse shower before you get back into the water.
- Take bathroom breaks every 60 minutes.
- Wash your hands after using the toilet or changing diapers.
- Check the free chlorine level and pH before getting into the water.
Looking for a place to swim? Visit one of these county options:
- The Water Mine Family Swimmin’ Hole – a family water park at Lake Fairfax Park captures the excitement of the Old West’s Gold Rush with attractions tailored for all ages.
- Our Special Harbour – a fully accessible Chesapeake-Bay themed sprayground.
- Cub Run Leisure Pool – an indoor water park with fun features for younger and older swimmers.
- RECenters – indoor swimming pools open at 10 locations throughout the county.
Our Health Department does not issue permits or inspect private pools. But if you have a pool in your backyard or are interested in installing one, there are some things you need to know from our Department of Public Works and Environmental Services.
- Permits and fees – There are a number of permits you need if you are installing a pool, including a building permit, a mechanical or plumbing permit (for fuel-fired heaters) and an electrical permit (for lighting, outlets and filters). You can apply for a permit online.
- Building plans checklist – When applying for a permit, you must submit two copies of your building plans.
- Pool location – Zoning regulations restrict the location of the residential pools to the rear or side yards, or in front yards that are larger than 36,000 square feet.
- Pool barrier requirements – All outdoor pools, spas and hot tubs must be protected by a fence.
- Temporary pools – All kid pools that are drained and filled daily with 12 inches or less of water are not required to meet county regulations.