How safe are swimming pools in UAE?

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How safe are swimming pools in UAE?

Sarjah/Ajman - Some residents are concerned about the quality of the water in swimming pools

By Afkar Abdullah/Ahmed Shaaban

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Published: Sat 10 Dec 2016, 7:24 PM

Residents of apartments and guests in hotels in Sharjah and Ajman have voiced concern over lack of enforcement of safety and health regulations in swimming pools.
Swimming as a fitness and entertaining activity increases during this time of the year due to the pleasant weather. And the use of swimming pools in residential buildings, hotels and club goes up considerably. According to residents, most swimming pools in buildings have no lifeguards to ensure the safety of swimmers, especially children.
The recent drowning of a 38-year-old man in a swimming pool in Al Nahda, Sharjah, and that of a child drowning in Ras Al Khaimah have brought more attention to the issue.
Some residents are also concerned about the quality of the water in swimming pools with a high content of chemicals. They are also apprehensive about the frequency at which the water is changed.
Abdullah Mustaf who lives in Buhairah Corniche, Sharjah, said with the approaching school break and due to the good weather, his children insist on swimming in the pool daily. However, he and his wife are worried as there are no lifeguards there.
"I have realised that there are no lifeguards in most apartment buildings. It is the same case with hotels and clubs, too," said Mustaf. "I once took my children to a resort in Sharjah for the weekend. They insisted on swimming in the pool and my youngest child would have almost drowned if I hadn't jumped in and rescued him. There were no lifeguards around," he added. Some buildings depend on the watchman to keep a watch on the swimming pool. But such people are not qualified for the job, said Mustaf.
According to Abdull Khalig Yousef, another resident, the water in the pools are not changed frequently resulting in rashes and skin problems.
A Mohammed Al Tuwaijri, who stayed in a hotel in Sharjah said he booked the hotel tempted by the breathtaking photographs of its swimming pool. But when he finally got to use it, realised that the water smelled foul and there was no lifeguard around.
According to the Sharjah Municipality, residents can call the emergency number at 933 and report such issues. Inspectors will rush to the building and ensure that stern action is taken against violators.
What officials say
Officials at the health department of the Sharjah Municipality said the municipality has introduced regulations to ensure safety in the swimming pool including ensuring proper maintenance of pumps, vacuuming machines, filter for purifying water and equipment to add colour in the specified measurement. The municipality also insists on having well-trained lifeguards who are knowledgeable of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and administering of first aid.
As for construction of indoor swimming pools, the engineering section at the municipality inspects the buildings to ensure they ?meet with the safety and health specifications.
He said apart from the water quality, the municipality also checks if regular maintenance work is done, and whether proper equipment and full-time qualified lifeguards are recruited.
Owners of residential buildings in Sharjah should also obtain a licence from the technical affairs department for building swimming pools in their buildings.
The department stipulates that children's swimming pools are separate from that of the adults, and should have full protection and rescue equipment at all times.
Salih Al Matroushi, Director of Ajman Civil Defence said the department, in coordination with Ajman Municipality, approves the licence of swimming pools only under certain conditions. These, he explained, include employing a lifeguard, swimming pool supervisor and manager.
afkarali@khaleejtimes.com
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Safety measures to be in place
Ahmed Shaaban
Even as number of drowning cases have been reported from the emirate, experts are calling for more attention to swimming pool safety.
Dr Yousif El Tayeb, occupational health, safety, environment expert and professional, told Khaleej Times that many families flock to swimming pools at all times of the year.
"However, swimming pools might pose a grave risk to kids if precautionary measures are not strictly observed,"
All children must be continuously watched over by an adult while they are in the swimming pool, he explained. "However, ?an adult may not be responsible for more than two children below eight."
Children below five years need attention all the time, he underlined. "All children, be they old or young, tall or short, cannot be left unattended, and may only be permitted to swim in shallow waters."
Those between eight and 12 years who can swim do not need ?an adult to be with them in the pool, but someone has to be watching over them off the pool at all times during swimming, Dr Tayeb observed.
Beginners and those who cannot swim of all ages should not swim deep into water higher than their chests, he underscored. "Lifeguards and attendants should be aware of all water depths in the pool to avoid any unexpected hassle."
Children with rubber floating wings or rings have to be denied access to deep waters. "Inflatable toys are only allowed at water not deeper than 60cm or 24inch while inflatable rafts, tubes, boats are not permitted at all in the swimming pool."
Lifeguards instruction must always be observed, Dr Tayeb said. "Immediately seek help from the well-trained lifeguards present in case of confusion or emergency situations." Children should abide by the warning signboards, avoid swimming at diving spots, should not run on and slippery surroundings of the pool, and never jump into less than 1.5m deep waters to steer away from dangerous injuries like in the head and spine."
Urging, he said swimming pools must always be surrounded with at least 1.5m or five inches fences or nets on all four sides to prevent young kids from falling unintentionally.
According to so many studies, locking pools have proved to prevent kids drowning by 50 to 90 per cent, he stated. "Fitting alarms on all the windows and doors leading to the pool are also advised."
Leaving toys in or close to the pool will attract kids' attention, and they may fall in and get hurt, Dr Tayeb warned. "It is also good to start training kids on swimming as of four years old."
ahmedshaaban@khaleejtimes.com
Know the law
> Children below five years need attention all the time
> An adult should not be responsible for more than two children below eight
> Those between eight and 12 ?years who can swim do not need and adult in the pool. But someone has to keep a watch at all times
> Beginners of all ages should not swim into water higher than their chests
> Lifeguards should be aware of all water depths in the pool
> Children with rubber floating wings or rings have to be denied access to deep waters.
> Pools must be surrounded with at least 1.5m or five inches fences or nets on all four sides
ahmedshaaban@khaleejtimes.com



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