In 1998, 26 children were stricken by an E. coli outbreak at a kiddie pool near Atlanta, Georgia. Seven children were hospitalized and one died. The tragedy led to sweeping changes in how public pools monitor and treat their water.
An investigation into the outbreak found that fecal matter in the Atlanta-area kiddie pool caused the high E. coli levels. Consequently, kiddie pools around the nation now have new chemical monitoring and treatment equipment. Certified specialists test the water regularly throughout the day using state and local codes to confirm that bacteria-fighting chemicals remain in constant balance.
In addition to completing water checks, public pools have additional rules to prevent E.coli outbreaks. Young children are required to wear specially designed disposable swimwear, which prevents leakage. Many facilities keep these types of swim diapers on-site, to assist parents who are not familiar with the new rules. Another change: Public pools now have diaper-changing areas located far away from the water, and parents are required to wash their hands before returning to the pool.
Finally, kiddie pool designs have changed over the years. Children’s areas now feature “zero-depth pools,” which feature constantly moving water. Whereas traditional baby pools have standing water, the zero-depth varieties feature small holes that line the bottom of the area, filtering the water.
If you are planning a trip to a waterpark, do some research first. Find out what rules and regulations are in place. Also, check to see if the kiddie pools have been replaced with fountain-type play areas that don’t have standing water. Go with your gut. If you feel like the waterpark is not safe or sanitary, look for another one. A little extra effort will go a long way to keep your child safe.