A pool is undeniably one of the most attractive amenities that comes with living in an Association. Pools provide a sense of luxury and leisure as well as a unique opportunity for exercise and activity. Of course, maintaining a pool comes with many rules and regulations and it is imperative to ensure success and safety at all times.
Any Association that has a pool should take note that this year is bringing along several changes to the rules. It is in the best interest of the Board of Trustees to fully grasp these changes to make sure residents and board members alike are aware of what is happening. Doing so will ensure everyone can continue to enjoy this wonderful amenity while staying safe.
Below are some recent changes to N.J.A.C. 8:26-1.1, et. sec., otherwise known as the “Bathing Code.” Associations should be aware of:
Equipment and Lifeguards on Duty
A. Associations can no longer use assist poles that are telescoping or life hooks with snap-on hooks.
B. Contents of the first aid kits are based upon the size of the pool and must be restocked within 24 hours of use.
C. Full spine board must be kept poolside.
D. At least one throw line which reaches the other side of the pool.
E. All life guarded pools must have an automated external defibrillator.
F. Pools with water depth over 5 feet must have a lifeguard platform.
G. The address of the pool must be posted along with the emergency phone numbers.
H. Posted pool rules must be updated to reflect the following:
- Any person showing evidence of any communicable skin disease, sore or inflamed eyes, cold, nasal or ear discharges, or any other communicable disease shall be denied admission.
- Any person with excessive sunburn, open blisters, cuts, or bandages shall be denied admission.
- Do not enter the water if you are experiencing or recovering from diarrhea or have had any signs or symptoms of a gastrointestinal (stomach) disease in the past seven days.
- All children in diapers must wear diapers specially designed for immersion in water (such as swimming diapers). Do not wash out soiled diapers in the bathing water.
- Children should be encouraged to use the restroom before entering the water. Immediately report any “accidents” you observe in the bathing waters to a lifeguard.
- No animals, except for service animals, shall be allowed in the swimming pool, wading pool, hot tub, or spa area, dressing rooms, or other parts of the enclosure.
- Glass containers shall be prohibited in food and drink areas.
- All persons shall shower before entering the water.
- Conduct which endangers the safety and comfort of others shall be prohibited.
- Outdoor bathing shall be prohibited during an electrical storm
- Persons suspected of being under the influence of drugs or alcohol hall be prohibited from entering the water.
I. Trash cans in the bathrooms/dressing rooms must be “fly tight,” water tight, and have a tight-fitting lid.
J. Pools which are less than 2,000 square feet of surface area with fewer than 61 bathers must have at least one lifeguard. The local health authority can increase these requirements based on pool configuration, number of swimmers, and other factors.
K. Lifeguards must watch the pool based on a zone of protection plan.
L. Lifeguards may not be distracted by activities such as texting, socializing, or reading. There have been some reports that the Bathing Code changes will prevent lifeguards from performing duties that distract away from the pool (such as checking badges).
Associations That Wish to Request a Waiver
Section 8:26-1.4 of the Bathing Code gives Associations the ability to request a waiver from the sections of the Bathing Code, except for Section 8:26-7.5 that deals with water quality and testing.
If an Association seeks a waiver of the standards of the Bathing Code, they must submit a written application to Consumer, Environmental, and Occupational Health Service, New Jersey Department of Health, PO Box 369, Trenton, NJ 08625-0369. Below is what the written application must include:
- The nature of the waiver requested;
- The specific standards for which a waiver is requested;
- The reasons for requesting a waiver, including a statement of the type and degree of hardship that would result if the waiver is not granted;
- An alternative proposal which would ensure public safety;
- Documentation to support the waiver application.
After the application is reviewed, the Commissioner, or his or her designee, may approve the waiver request for the particular sections of this chapter if, in his or her opinion, the waiver would not endanger the safety or health of the public.
Exemption from First Aid Personnel and Lifeguard Requirements
Along with the ability to request a waiver, there is also an exception to not have to comply with the first aid personnel and lifeguard requirements of the Bathing Code for what are known as a “specially exempt facility.”
A specially exempt facility is defined in part as a private nonprofit common interest community that restricts the use of its pool, as appropriate, to the owners of units thereof and their invited guests. However, the exception does not apply to a specially exempt facility that has a functional diving board, water slide, or other recreational appurtenance that may present an increased safety risk or hazard. The Association would still have to comply with all other requirements of the Bathing Code regardless if it is a specially exempt facility.
If an Association decides to claim an exemption from having first aid personnel and lifeguards, they must post a minimum 3 foot by 4 foot sign at every entrance, that is easily readable with contrasting colors with the following:
- “No lifeguard on duty.”
- “Persons under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult.”
- “No swimming alone.”
- The hours that the public recreation bathing facility that is open.
Before a Board of Trustees applies for a waiver or exemption, they must consider the consequences in terms of liability, as well as the effect on insurance coverage. It is strongly recommended that the Board of Trustees speaks with its insurance agent prior to seeking any exemption or waiver in order to determine any potential consequences in terms of increased costs or effects on coverage.
Further Changes to the Bathing Code
It should also be noted that the above provides a brief synopsis of the changes and requirements to the Bathing Code. There are also changes with regard to approvals needed prior to opening, water testing, the aquatics facility plan, trained Pool Operators, and pool inspections. These details can be found in the Bathing Code.
If your Board of Trustees has any question or is in need of assistance, please do not hesitate to get into contact with us here at Mezzacca & Kwansik. We would be more than happy to help you.