Well That’s Disgusting

Ahhh, the Good Old Days when this was all we were concerned about

With Atlanta’s continued severe weather alerts due to temperatures peaking in the mid to high nineties (and the accompanying air quality alerts and heat advisories) continuing throughout this week, one of my only options will be to load up the kids, some towels and our diving toys and head on out to the neighborhood pool.  Oh, wait.  Nevermind.  We won’t be doing that because somebody keeps pooping in the pool.

We have probably received no less than ten notices over the past few years that the neighborhood pool is closed for anywhere from 24 to 48 hours “due to fecal contamination.”  I know… it makes me throw up a little too (but I do it in my mouth, not in a community recreational area).  It is foul and disgusting, not to mention incredibly inconvenient to the rest of the neighbors in the ‘hood when our pool gets shut down.

Don’t get me wrong… I am extremely happy that our Pool Powers That Be are following the CDC’s “Fecal Incident Response Recommendations for Pool Staff” (oh, come on – you knew that there had to be one!) in order to protect us all from recreational water illnesses that can result from ingestion by swimmers of pool water that may or may not contain Cryptosporidium, Giardia, E. coli 0157:H7, or Shigella.  Yummy!   The CDC goes on to classify different increasing levels of contamination (based upon causation by vomit, formed stool, or diarrhea) and the quantity of chlorine concentration and disinfection time necessary to successfully remove/ eradicate each (just skim it out, 3.0 ppm for 19 minutes, and blow up the pool and start over, respectively).  All this crap (pun intended) is putting a serious crimp in my summer agenda.

So the question is… What do we do about it?  Do we gently remind everyone to take young children for regular, preemptive potty breaks and to always wear their swim diapers?  Do we also remind people that anyone who has had stomach issues, a respiratory illness, or sickness of any kind (with or without diarrhea, just to be safe) should stay out of the public pool for at least a full week?  Do we go all Joe McCarthy on them and print the names of the guilty parties in the monthly newsletter, like the Police Blotter reports of the DWI incidents in the Johns Creek Herald?  Or do we ban the perps from the pool for the rest of the season?

I can tell you that none of that will serve to eliminate (pun intended) the issue.  And being familiar with lawyers, I can guarantee that somebody will no doubt cry “Discrimination!” because people have no shame.  Plus, accidents happen, especially when it comes to little kids and poop.  We will continue to receive fecal contamination notices throughout the summer and we just have to deal with it.

My suggestion in lieu of public flogging of the guilty (which I would still TOTALLY still support in the case of a-hole teenagers who think it is a funny prank to throw dog poop into our pool) we should have a “Poop in the Food/ Drinks, Not in Our Pool Party,” where we would offer specialty drinks, Baby Ruth candy bars, and sweet corn pudding.  I found this recipe on the internet, so I’m sure that with a little effort we could find many, many more.

Poop in the Pool Cocktail

2 oz chilled Blue Curacao liqueur (or blue Kool-Aid for the kiddies)
1 small Tootsie roll candy
Pour the Curacao into a shot glass and drop in a Tootsie Roll

Cheers! And I’ll see you at the pool (at least 24 – 48 hours after the next hyperchlorination, just to be safe).

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

Beware the Silence

Drowning can be deceptively silent.  People who are drowning in real life don’t look like they do on television.  There is no splashing, no screaming, no flailing about.  There is usually no noise at all.  Just eerily silent suffering.

I almost can’t bring myself to write this post, as the recall of memories still brings tears to my eyes and a physical pain to my heart.  But I am doing it to remind everyone to be vigilant this summer… at the pool, on the beach and on the lake.

At a community pool, with both Sheepdog and I right there, Kid C once almost drowned.  She had just turned four years old and she did not know how to swim on her own, so she wore one of those swim vests that zipped up the front and snapped under the crotch.  It kept her afloat while she learned the mechanics of swimming and developed strength in both her arms and legs.

She was sitting on a towel off to the side of the pool snacking on some fresh berries, and she had taken the vest off to be more comfortable.  When she was done she went back into the pool, forgetting to put the vest back on first.  She descended the pool steps, quickly – and oh so silently – she was submerged under the water.  A mother nearby noticed that she was perfectly still and miraculously yanked her out of the pool in time to keep her from drowning.  As she vomited strawberries and pool water all over me, I couldn’t believe how quiet everything had seemed.

I can tell you that this all happened in a matter of seconds and that, even in hindsight, both Sheepdog and I felt like we were being watchful.  You will most likely presume that we were distracted socializing with other parents or that maybe our attention was drawn elsewhere by another child.  Neither of those things is true.  I have gone over those seconds in my head more times than seems humanly possible and I still don’t have all of the answers.  I can tell you that I grew up with a pool in my backyard, and spent countless summer days at the beach and on a sailboat.  I know infant, child and adult CPR and have even taken lifeguard training courses.  I certainly thought I was an attentive parent, especially when my kids are around the water, but that day taught me otherwise.

Just this past Memorial Day weekend a three-year-old girl silently drowned in a community pool on the Main Line in Philadelphia, with her parents only a few feet away.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention site says that fatal drowning remains the second-leading cause of unintentional injury-related death for children ages 1 to 14 years.

The Atlanta forecast over the next few days is currently “hot,” along with several days of “very hot,” so there will certainly be an increase in water activities.  Please be reminded to watch your children carefully at all times.  Remember to always listen for the noise of them playing in the water.  And beware the silence.