Tag Archives: pools

Pool Accessibility and Success!!! Great Success!

7 Feb

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a few months now, and as you can probably tell, I haven’t written a whole lot of anything for a while now. So here it goes!

After my summer pool fiasco, and not being able to get Baby R + her stroller into the neighborhood pool, I had taken a break from thinking about all things related to warm weather, sun, and water. It is, after all, the middle of winter, and thinking about warm weather will only torture my ghostly pale physique. So imagine  my surprise when I get an email from the city, complete with picture (!) of the brand new doorbell and handicap access sign at the entrance to the pool! YAY!! SO awesome!

Although my battle was kind of a pain (I admit, I really don’t like confrontation, though it might seem otherwise on here) it was SO worth it. Hopefully this summer, and subsequent ones, no one will have to struggle to get into the pool because they are either in a wheelchair, or pushing a stroller. Big thanks to Ralph at the City of Alexandria for helping me out, and really listening as to why it was important that everyone, no matter their capability, have access to the pool. I’m super excited to go push that doorbell in June. BTW – as you can see from the picture – this post is LONG overdue!

Doorbell

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Biohazard!! Everyone out of the water

3 Aug

So here I am sitting at the pool this past Saturday, enjoying a few hours (and by hours I mean maybe 1 hour and 15 minutes) away from the baby, and all of a sudden I hear the pool manager yell “Biohazard in the water, everybody out! Biohazard in the water, everybody out!”

Now, you want to clear out a pool with 30 people in it that is the way to go. So of course everyone is now staring at the pool manager and lifeguards wondering what is going on, and why are they staring so intently where some kids where swimming just a few moments before. Turns out, the biohazard was…you guessed it – poop! At least I’m pretty sure it was poop, they fished it out and tied it up in a plastic bag – just like when people curb their dogs, so I’m assuming it was poop.

As I was watching all of this go down, I couldn’t help but do 2 things – 1. laugh hysterically – hey it was funny! and 2. wonder if they were going to follow CDC guidelines for cleaning up such an incident. In full disclosure, I’m a bit more tuned in to this stuff because I’ve written for the American Chemistry Council’s Healthy Pools blog, so of course I HAD to observe what the lifeguards were doing to get the water back in shape. I mean, here was my job, literally coming to life in front of me.

So not only was everyone out of the water, lickity split, the lifeguards actually seemed to follow the guidelines for treating the water, keeping everyone out for a specific period of time (for this “biohazard” it was 1 hour) and luckily, for the kiddies, didn’t go around asking people who had done it. Whether or not the pool people would go around trying to figure it out I’m not sure, but if I was the offender (I wasn’t) I would be off somewhere, tail between my legs, contemplating never showing my face at the pool again.

Impressively enough, I used my test strips to check the water afterwards, and the pH and CH levels were right in line with where they should be. Didn’t mean I was going to go swimming (I did have to get back to Baby R), but the moral of the story is … “Don’t poop in the pool!” 

I’ll tell you this – as much as I COULD NOT stop laughing – I seriously had tears running down my face – apparently even at my age bathroom humor is funny – I hope that I never see or hear a person yell “Biohazard in the water, Everybody out!” Because when I do – it will be too soon.

Pool Accessibility and Missing the Point

8 Jul

While I appreciate both Ralph Baird (Aquatics Director) and Tony Castilli (Director of Communications) taking the time to respond to me, they both missed the point. The point wasn’t to get a form email/comment saying thanks for the concern and we value everyone’s accessibility, please call ahead when you’re coming. The point and issue is the fact that this is an extremely SIMPLE fix. Unlock the gate. You don’t even have to keep it open – just unlock it so that those of us who can’t walk down the stairs can open the gate and walk in just like those who don’t have strollers or wheelchairs can do. I shouldn’t have to call attention to myself (literally) just to get my daughter and myself to the pool. And neither should a handicapped person – that’s just cruel.

There’s no money involved, no monkeying around with facility architecture, and no heavy lift – just unlock the gate. If the lifeguards are that worried about people walking in without paying, then staff a table at that entrance to collect money. The driveway up to the gate is perfectly accessible by those with strollers and those in wheelchairs so to keep the gate off the driveway unlocked is really a no brainer.

I don’t think that the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed so that facilities could just tell patrons to call them ahead of time instead of allowing them to use the facility just as an able-bodied person could. How insensitive of Alexandria and its pool operators.

The secondary issue here is the utter lack of respect that the lifeguards working seem to have for the patrons. Yes, I was not super nice this weekend after I asked, again, why the gate isn’t open – but that’s only because every time I come, and every time I ask I met with major attitude about what an inconvenience it is to the pool staff for them to have the gate unlocked. “People will walk in without paying” and “if you don’t like it, go to another pool” are unacceptable comments. 1. Most people will NOT walk in without paying – that’s not saying much for city residents, and 2. Telling me to go to another pool because I’m asking you to do your job is astonishing.

Again, I cannot believe that Alexandria City has nothing – not one word – to say about the attitude and rudeness of their employees. There are simple fixes to these problems. 1. Unlock the gate (off the driveway, not at the top of the stairs – that would defeat the purpose if the gate unlocked was at the top of a set of stairs) and tell your lifeguards to knock off the attitude. That the pool manager allows this to happen makes it all that much worse.

I love living in Alexandria, the neighborhoods are great, the shopping, restaurants, family-friendly activities (usually), and people make this place a great town to raise a family in – but the response – both the comment in my first post, and the email I received is incredibly disheartening and disappointing. It’s unacceptable to be discriminated against because I’m a Mom, and even more infuriating that the city is seemingly unconcerned about wheelchair access to pool patrons. While I one day will be able to come to the pool without a stroller, that is usually not the case for wheelchair bound people.

Pool Accessibility – Inaccessible is Unacceptable

6 Jul

I admit it, I was not nice this weekend. I was a bit defensive and caustic. But I’m sick of fighting with surly unprofessional lifeguards! I live near a City of Alexandria pool, and visit regularly. It’s close by, the water is clean, and its family friendly. Great, right? Nope. Not only is it not stroller accessible, it’s not handicap accessible. And that is UNACCEPTABLE. In order to get my daughter to the pool, I have to carry her stroller down a flight of steps (with her in it that’s over 45 lbs) or take her out, find a lifeguard to help me carry it down, then figure out how to carry both her and stroller down a flight of steps. The other option is to yell through the fence to a lifeguard, ask them to open the gate and wait and wait and wait for said lifeguard to leave his or her post, find a person with a key and then open the gate. And let me tell you, there is MAJOR attitude when I do this. So I usually strap her in, and try not to dump her over while I haul the stroller down the steps.

So after a few times of doing this, I ask the lifeguards why the gate isn’t open. Their response: people might come in that way and not pay to use the pool. Here’s a novel idea: STAFF A TABLE!! There’s no reason that these lifeguards can’t staff a table to take money from patrons needing to use a gated entrance and not the steps. Not only can I not get to the pool without monkeying with my stroller, there is NO way a handicapped person could get to the pool. The City of Alexandria discriminates (knowingly or unknowingly) against families and handicapped people by allowing this to happen. This is against the law! The Americans With Disabilities Act prevents such discrimination.

Mind you, there are 9 lifeguards on duty at any given time. 3 watch the pool, and the other 6 sit at a table and gossip and complain about things. So because they are too lazy, and incompetent I have to struggle to get my daughter to the pool and a handicapped person would really have to make an effort. It’s not fair to discriminate against someone because your workers are lazy. The gate should be open so that people can enjoy the pool without calling attention to themselves.

Want to know the coup de grace moment? I was told that if I didn’t like it (meaning their lazy butts weren’t going to open the gate) that I could “GO TO ANOTHER POOL”. Who does that? Seriously!! I was so pissed about this, that it still makes my blood boil. Not only was this lifeguard completely rude and out of line (I was not that obtrusive to him) his BOSS was RIGHT THERE – and agreed with him. The quality of these employees hired by Alexandria City astonishes me.

I emailed the City of Alexandria’s Director of Aquatics, Ralph Baird earlier today and am very curious to know of his response.

Why a healthy pool is important to me

30 Jun

Ok, this could get gross, but stick with me! As a new Mom I am constantly bombarded with “do this”, “do that”, “use this product”, “buy this toy” sales pitches to the point that I’m starting to wonder which end of the baby is up.  And I have to admit, here and there I sometimes fall victim to the sexy ads, alarming wording and overall “must have” nature that surrounds parenthood. For the most part, I can pick and choose the advice and items which I feel fit best with my style of parenting, but when it comes to Baby R’s health, I want to know what’s flash and what’s actually important.

As a newborn she’s susceptible to more problems in her environment than older kids, and it’s my job to keep her safe. With summer coming up, it’s going to be a sun-protection adventure full of sunscreen, hats, bathing suits and that ever-so-wonderful afternoon by the pool.

As little as she is, she certainly won’t be lounging in the sun for long, but I do want to be sure to take her in the water. Not just to cool her off, but to get her used to the water, so that it’s familiar when it comes time for her to take swimming lessons.  And so she can have some fun splashing around!

And, as cute as she’ll be in her little bathing suit (I’m her mother, I’m biased!) it would not be cute for her to have an “explosion” and contaminate the water. Which means, not only will she wear a swim diaper, but I will also change her away from the pool area, and make sure both of us take care to wash up properly afterwards. The last thing I would want to do would be to put another person at risk just because Baby R was in the water!

I also don’t want to risk her breathing or getting used to that “chlorine smell”, which isn’t even chlorine at all. It’s CHLORAMINES – by-products of the interaction between chlorine and body oil, pee and/or bacteria. A truly clean pool – meaning the chemicals are balanced and it’s routinely vacuumed – doesn’t smell – at all. Controlling the chlorine level and the pH of a pool means it’s properly disinfected to kill germs, it doesn’t smell, there’s no grimy feel to the sides, the water doesn’t bother your skin or eyes and, is, overall – a healthy pool.

So not only can I protect my daughter from the sun, this summer, I can also protect her from unhealthy pools – just by doing what Moms do – being proactive. I can take my test strips (they’re free – order them here!) and test the water to be sure it’s safe for her to “swim” in. If the chemicals aren’t balanced properly, I can inform the lifeguard (or other pool caretaker) and I’ll know that I probably shouldn’t take her in the water.

I’m my daughter’s first line of defense against the world, and I want to her to be safe in the water — and FROM the water.

Cross posted from www.healthypools.org

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