Stay safe in the pool

A long scorching summer and humid conditions almost throughout the year have ensured a steady rise in the number of public swimming pools in Delhi-NCR. Almost every upmarket residential complex today promises a small water park, besides neighbourhood clubs, hotels, spas and educational institutes also offering swimming pool facilities.

Of late, however, a string of fatal incidents in public swimming pools have dampened the spirit of swimmers and raised doubts over the safety measures being followed in such facilities. Last week, a 65-year-old man Akhil Arora died mysteriously while swimming in the pool of his apartment complex in Noida. A month before this, a 26-year-old avid swimmer Shivesh Bose was also found dead in the pool of a prestigious school.

Are our pool operators not taking enough safety precautions or is the public not sufficiently aware of health hazards in a pool?

Asian Games silver medallist swimmer Khajan Singh, who also runs a swimming academy in the Capital now, says, “Swimming is usually considered the safest sport which involves minimum risk of injury. However, if a pool is not adhering to safety regulations laid down by the municipal bodies and international swimming organisations, it can prove to be fatal.”

“Firstly, a coach and a lifeguard must be on standby for every second of the pool in use. The lifeguard should be certified for the job besides knowing first aid and resuscitation techniques as well. Where children of 3.5 feet are using the pool, the depth should not exceed 2.5 feet, and in general too, it must stay below 6 feet. Kids should be provided with floaters and safety equipment such as life rings and reaching poles must be readily available.”

Founder-president of Rashtriya Life Saving Society, Rear Admiral (retd) Purushottam Sharma, says the more safety features are added to a pool, the better it is. “Every pool operator must consider the kind of drain cover he is using. Often, the suction force in pool pipes sucks in stray hair, jewellery, clothing and even limbs of swimmers. This has lead to drowning worldwide. Pool operators must install anti-entrapment drain covers.”

“Other than this, ladders, hand rails, grab rails, fences to keep off children, alarms and covers for when the pool is not in use must also be installed. They should be routinely checked by engineers and safety inspectors to point out any potential hazards.”There are several precautions that pool users also need to keep in mind: first of them being informing pool authorities of any existing medical conditions. Dr Rajesh Chawla of Indraprastha Apollo hospital says, “If you are asthmatic, carrying inhalers to the pool is a must. If you have exercise-induced asthma, then it’s better to take reliever drugs before venturing into the pool. 

Remember to not strain yourself.”

“If you have a cardiac history, consult your doctor about swimming. If you suffer from epilepsy, then you are better away from the pool. Having a ‘buddy swimmer’ is another sure-shot way of safe swimming, whether you have a medical condition or not.”

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