ATLANTA, March 1 /PRNewswire/ -- Georgia legislators will begin conferring today about a crucial bill that will determine if and how swimming pools in the state are regulated. Currently, Georgia is one of only a handful of states without statewide pool regulations, a critical problem that can lead to increased drownings, near drownings and spread of infectious illnesses. Proponents of standard pool safety for Georgia's children - including State Senator Donzella James, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, SAFE KIDS of Georgia, the Georgia Board of Registered Environmental Health Professionals and others - are seeking to standardize pool regulations throughout the state. Currently, rules vary from county to county and from pool to pool. While many county-operated pools have certain rules to maintain, most apartment-complex pools do not. "This puts children at risk for a number of nasty infections, ranging from otitis externa to gastroenteritis and diarrhea," says Anitha Leonard, M.D., an emergency room physician at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston. "In addition, more serious, and even deadly viral strains can lurk in pool water. "Not only does Georgia have the dubious distinction of reporting the only two incidents of E. coli (0157:H7) transmitted via swimming pool water in the country," said Susan Reyher, chairman of the Georgia Board of Registered Environmental Health Professionals, "but it's also one of only two states without requirements for permits and inspections of public pools. Maybe there is a correlation there. Uniform standards and routine inspections could assist in decreasing illnesses and preventing injuries at public pools. It is past time for Georgia to take action on this issue." Statewide pool regulations could also decrease the number of drownings every year. "We're especially concerned about the number of drownings we see," said Dr. Leonard. "Hardly a week goes by in one of the three children's emergency rooms in Atlanta without a child being treated for drowning or near-drowning - resulting in one death or more each month of the summer." "Drowning is a tragedy which stronger pool regulations can effect," said Carol Ball, Executive Director of SAFE KIDS of Georgia. "Proper pool fencing can help, along with use of CPR-trained lifeguards and requiring parents or guardians to be with children younger than age 12." Senate Bill 30, sponsored by Senator James, seeks to authorize one state body to create and police pool regulations. The bill passed the House floor earlier this month, but was watered down to exclude apartment complex pools, which sometimes lack fencing and properly locking gates and are often the worst offenders for drownings and the spread of disease. "This puts thousands of children in Georgia at great risk," says Ball. "We urge Georgians to support statewide pool safety regulation to help protect our children." Concerned Georgians hoping to influence legislators on this issue should contact the conferees assigned to iron out the differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill - including Sen. Eddie Madden of Elberton, Sen. Donzella James and State Rep. Bob Holmes of Atlanta, Sen. Robert Brown of Macon, State Rep. Lester Jackson of Savannah and State Rep. Alan Powell of Hartwell.
SOURCE Children's Healthcare of Atlanta