NEW ORLEANS — The City of New Orleans today announced efforts underway to increase awareness surrounding the dangers of unsafe, hazardous pools.
“Code Enforcement is mounting an effort beginning today to aggressively identify and fix dangerous pools throughout the city,” said Thomas Mulligan, Director of Code Enforcement. “We have a number of hazardous pools on our radar which we will be abating and taking aggressive action on this summer and beyond. We encourage owners with pools not in compliance to take immediate action and contact our office. We are happy to work with our residents to collaborate on creating solutions that will keep their neighbors and other members of the community safe.”
The Office of Code Enforcement is taking a strong, proactive approach towards enforcing unfenced pools. Unfenced or improperly fenced pools are a serious danger to life, health and public safety, especially for children. City law requires that all pools have a complete fence around them that is at least six feet tall, with self-closing and self-latching access gates. The law empowers Code Enforcement to drain, drill and fill pools that fail to comply with this requirement. Code Enforcement will aggressively identify and abate non-compliant pools. Residents are encouraged to report dangerous pools by calling 311 or e-mailing email@example.com.
The New Orleans Health Department (NOHD) reported that Louisiana has the third-highest rate of drowning deaths in the country, and in the Greater New Orleans region, drowning is the second leading cause of death of children ages 0 to 14. More than two-thirds of drowning deaths occurred in a swimming pool due to lack of supervision and lack of barriers to the pool or water source. Non-fatal drowning incidents are even more prevalent than drowning deaths, which can result in complicated and devastating long-term health problems, including brain damage and developmental disabilities.
“Swimming pools are fun and relaxing but also very dangerous for small children. Every year we need to remind people that drowning is a major public health issue and one of the leading causes of death for kids,” said Dr. Jennifer Avegno, Director of NOHD. “Enroll your kids in swim classes and follow all pool safety guidelines, and you can all have a fun and well-tanned summer.”
The New Orleans Recreation Development (NORD) Commission has at least nine swimming pools open and operational for residents’ enjoyment and for swimming lessons Mondays through Fridays, from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. They continue to work to open pools and expand summer and aquatic opportunities for youth and families.
“Summer is a great time to enjoy indoor and outdoor pools with friends and family,” said NORD Commission CEO Larry Barabino, Jr. “It is very important to follow the recommended rules and guidelines when participating in aquatics programming and activities. While NORD is only able to open a limited number of facilities this summer, we’ve worked closely with our partners, staff, and City officials to ensure safety and equitable access to pools will still be accessible across the City. We encourage residents to visit www.nordc.org for more information.”
Another public health risk associated with unsafe or unkept pools is mosquito-borne illnesses. Mosquitoes lay eggs on or near water surfaces. Large bodies of water like swimming pools and kiddie pools, as well as outdoor children’s toys like water tables, can attract large numbers of mosquitoes in search of places to lay eggs. The New Orleans Mosquito, Termite, Rodent and Control Board (NOMTRCB) encourages residents to properly use swimming pool grade chemicals with functional circulation and filtration systems to keep swimming pools clean and free of mosquito larvae all season long. Inspecting the home and yard weekly and tipping over or draining toys, kiddie pools or other water-holding containers will help reduce additional sources of mosquito breeding as well.
“We are well into our peak mosquito season already – temperatures are extremely hot, and they are everywhere,” said Dr. Jennifer Breaux, Research Entomologist for NOMTRCB. “As we enter National Mosquito Control Awareness Week, we encourage residents to visit our website for additional resources and tips. Residents can also contact us through 311 with mosquito-related requests or to report standing water, unkept swimming pools, and any other issues, including standing water on the sides of the road, dumped tires, or other receptacles.”