Georgia Legislators Debate Standardized Pool Regulations

Mar 01, 2000, 00:00 ET from Children's Healthcare of Atlanta

    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
     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

SOURCE Children's Healthcare of Atlanta