I-Team: Pool safety rules, even when followed, won't guarantee safety

Tuesday, June 19, 2018
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Officials say drownings show limitations of pool rules if swimmers don't follow them.

DURHAM, NC (WTVD) -- The pool where three people drowned early Tuesday passed its inspection less than two weeks ago, and officials say the drownings show the limitations of those rules if swimmers don't follow them.

According to the Durham County Department of Public Health, the pool at Chapel Tower Apartments met all requirements as stipulated in the 25-page rules section on public swimming, including fence height (at least four feet), lighting, safety buoy and flotation device, and a clearly-marked landline phone to dial 911.

"Also the pool operator is required to do a daily inspection of the pool and they should be checking to make sure the pool phone is working and the safety equipment is in place," John Williams, Durham County's Chief Pool Inspector, told the I-Team

Click here for the Chapel Tower Apartment Pool Inpesction sheet

Williams adds that his teams inspect more than 300 pools in Durham County every year; the last drowning took place in 2014 when a 7-year-old Jamarcus Graham was found floating face-down in the pool at the Brightleaf Community Center.

"Most drownings are kids who don't know how to swim or aren't strong enough," Williams laments. "It's so important that children are supervised and adults never swim alone."

While the circumstances revolving the Chapel Tower drownings are still unknown, Williams acknowledges that unauthorized access to pools is a prevalent complaint among property owners and pool operators.

"A lot of properties have cameras up and that's not a deterrent. It's really difficult. I guess you could wall it off and make it like a fortress, but ascetically properties don't want that."