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Pool safety in focus during the summer
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During the hot summer months, a swimming pool can be one of the most fun and relaxing places to be, especially for kids.

But a pool can also be dangerous.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, children ages 1 to 4 have the highest drowning rates, most occurring in pools.

Though not knowing how to swim is certainly a risk factor in drowning deaths, another leading risk is an absence of barriers to the water.

Georgia state law requires a 4-foot fence to surround all pools more than 24 inches deep.

“A lot of people who have pools in their backyards in Gainesville don’t know that they have to have a fence around it or they don’t want to know,” said Gary Kansky, Gainesville city code enforcement manager.

Some people don’t want to build a fence around their pool because they think it is unattractive. But Kansky said people always comply once they are notified that it is a matter of safety.

“You have to get it through your head that if a child or an animal drowns in your pool, what could you have done to prevent it?” Kansky said.

Most of the time code enforcement officers investigate after a complaint is made. Kansky said they will always investigate to make sure there is no violation of city code.

If someone makes a complaint about a pool in an apartment complex or neighborhood, Hall County Environmental Health may also get involved.

Pat Braswell, Environmental Health Director of District 2 Public Health, said the agency only gets one or two complaints about neighborhood pools a year.

“If we get a complaint, we have to investigate, but I don’t have any authority to enforce, only to educate,” Braswell said.

Braswell said the goal is to help pool owners learn ways to correct any problem and what dangers they may present.

For instance, a pool that isn’t maintained and has water that is too cloudy to see through could prevent someone from noticing something or someone on the bottom.

A pool that isn’t filled but is collecting water often becomes a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

Pools that aren’t maintained or properly chlorinated could cause people to become sick.

Braswell said the state requires a certified pool safety person to take care of those levels and make sure chemicals are used and disposed properly.

Kansky said he doesn’t like to take people to court and prefers to educate as well.

“I’d rather us go work with this person and get them to compliance and go about our way. We’re basically out there to educate,” Kansky said.

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