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Making Splash Pads & Spray Parks Safe

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Making Splash Pads & Spray Parks Safe

The importance of discussing the safety of splash pads and spray parks couldn’t come at a more important time. After the recent news of a child being killed by a rare brain-eating amoeba he caught a spray park, parents are concerned. Many want to know what is being done to make splash pads and spray parks safe for their kids. While this latest tragedy may be front page news, the concern has been ongoing for a while and seems to elevate with each reported death. Experts say better education is needed on both the proper maintenace of these structures and the guidelines those that use them must follow.

While contracting a fatal disease from an organism like Naegleria fowleri is still pretty uncommon, contracting water borne diseases is not. An outbreak of cryptosporidiosis occurred at Seneca Lake State Park in New York during the summer of 2005. Over 1,700 people may have been sickened, with 425 laboratory-confirmed cases and 1,374 probable cases reported. The water tanks that fed the 11,000 square foot spray pad were found to be contaminated with Cryptosporidium, a microscopic parasite that causes the diarrheal disease cryptosporidiosis. As a result, New York implemented emergency public health regulations to oversee the design and sanitation of similar water features throughout the state and many other satellite states began to institute similar measures.

Prior to that outbreak, in 1999 a diarrheal outbreak impacted 44 percent of visitors (an estimated 4,800 individuals) to a new spray park / water fountain at a coastal park. When health department inspectors performed their investigation of the spray park, they discovered that the water drained from the play area into an underground reservoir for recirculation. The issue was discovered to be the result of insufficient chlorination and a lack of a filtration system. The chlorine tab feeder had been empty for weeks, and the designers had omitted adding a backup sanitizing system.

Spray park regulation has been slow as agencies try to set guidelines. Photo Credit: Parrish Pools

Health Agencies Slow To Regulate

Because splash pad areas and interactive spray parks are still in their early stages, health agencies have not yet quite figured out clear rules for how water at these facilities ought to be treated. All spray parks and splash pads must be been constructed to ensure that contaminants can be cleansed and filtered out of the water.

Tom Parrish of Parrish Pools in Maryland is a commercial pool builder specializing in the construction of splash pads and spray parks. “We build them to the highest standards with redundant sanitation systems,” said Parrish, “unfortunately some of these older spray parks aren’t equipped with a secondary sanitizing system and those older parks should have their equipment checked often.”

Parrish also indicated that even the best automation systems and sanitizing systems do not negate parents of their own responsibility. “When using a splash pad or spray park, caregivers and children should both follow the safety rules” said Parrish, “it’s absolutely vital to reinforce that their children do as well. It’s incumbent upon adults to make sure that best practices are being followed, this includes all the standard rules like not peeing or defecating in the water, showering before entering the play area, proper disposal of swim diapers and things of that nature.”

Cryptosporidium is something to be mindful of when it comes to small children interacting with spray parks & splash pads.
Cryptosporidium is something to be mindful of when it comes to small children interacting with spray parks & splash pads.

Disease Control in Spray Parks & Splash Pads

The prevention of disease is an important problem that is bigger than the U.S. World wide cases of crypto have been increasing. Finland is a country reknowned for it’s healthcare system yet reported 571 cryptosporidiosis cases in 2020, almost 30 times as high as the figure in 2010. It’s a problem that can not only cost lives, but can cost businesses, builders, and operators millions. That same crypto outbreak we mentioned that occured in Seneca Lake prompted a class action lawsuit against the state for millions of dollars after cryptosporidium was discovered in the park’s holding tanks.

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What is Cryptosporidium?

Crypto is a parasite that produces symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, fever, and weight loss. It spreads through feces in the water and takes about a week to be killed by chlorine. As a result, New York now requires the use of wading pools or an ultraviolet disinfection system, health permits for parks that use recycled water, signs warning patrons with diarrhea to stay away from the area, and animal fencing.

Dealing With the Trichlor Shortage Head On

Using Chlorine is No Guarantee

The use of chlorine to treat recirculated water does not guarantee that it is bacteria-free. A child can crouch over a nozzle, or a parent can change a diaper and rinse the infant in the spray, infecting the newborn with recreational water illness. The contaminated water enters the sewers, is filtered, and then delivered to holding tanks, where the free chlorine rapidly changes. Chlorine feeders and controls must be tested on a regular basis. RWI can occur if there is no chlorine or if a fecal accident occurs. If the water is recirculated, it must be treated and the functioning equipment must be monitored to ensure safe water conditions.

Using Ultraviolet Systems Against Microorganisms in The Pool

Ultraviolet systems are quite effective against microorganisms like crypto. Manufacturers also advocate adding an ozone system to an existing sanitation system as an upgrade. To avoid RWIs, many spray parks use nonrecirculated potable water that is routed to wastewater treatment or used to irrigate the area.

Every facilitiy should engage a top pool builder in the design and installation of the water treatment system, as well as its operation and maintenance. Backwashing filters and cleaning strainer baskets for filters, pumps, and feature pumps can help to ensure water quality. Ultimately, spray parks need to be properly maintained, sanitized, and supervised in order to ensure they are safe.

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Pool News coverage brought to you by Pool Magazine's own Marcus Packer. Marcus Packer is a 20 year pool industry veteran pool builder and pool service technician. In addition to being a swimming pool professional, Marcus has been a writer and long time contributor for Newsweek Magazine's home improvement section and more recently for Florida Travel + Life. Have a story idea or tip you'd like to share with Pool Magazine? Email mpacker@poolmagazine.com your story idea.

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Skimmer Raises Additional $5M in Capital to Add Key Employees

Company Has Now Raised Over $10M in 15 Months

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Skimmer Pool Service Software - Skimmer Raises Additional $5M in Capital to Add Key Employees

AUSTIN, Texas, Jan. 27, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Skimmer, the global leader in Pool Service Software (SaaS Platform and App), recently announced it raised an additional $5M to fuel its future growth. Unbundled Capital and existing Skimmer employees funded the entire capital raise.

Pete Freeland, CEO of Unbundled Capital, explained, “We were able to finance this entire investment round from our existing investors in Skimmer.  In fact, we were significantly oversubscribed, which is a testament to how excited our investors are about Skimmer’s growth and potential.”

Skimmer has now raised over $10M since October 2020.  “Our goal is not simply to maintain our market leadership.  Our goal is to redefine the entire category.  And this additional capital will allow us to do so.”

According to Jack Nelson, CEO of Skimmer, Skimmer will invest the funds across three areas: development, customer success, and marketing.  “We have an incredible foundation.  Now we will be able to add even more features, reach more pool and spa service professionals, and find even more ways to support our growing customer base.  We will also be able to attract more talented folks to our development, customer success, and marketing teams.”

Skimmer has recently added three key members to its leadership team.  Jason Moore joined Skimmer as its Director of Product; Donnie Byrd joined as Skimmer’s Head of Payments; and Flavia de la Fuente recently joined as its Director of Operations.  According to Nelson, Skimmer expects to hire another five employees in key roles in engineering and marketing in the upcoming months.  “We recognize that it’s a competitive market, and our goal is to be able to continue to attract top talent across the organization.  Great talent begets great talent.”

About Skimmer
Skimmer’s category-defining Pool Service Software Platform has helped thousands of pool service and repair businesses engage efficiently and professionally with pool & spa owners across the United States, Canada, and in a few other countries. The SaaS platform provides pool service and repair businesses of all sizes access to features that simplify work orders, route optimization, pool tech management, billing and invoicing, customer communication, and payments. Everything you need to run your pool service business, all in one app.™ Learn more at getskimmer.com

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Pool Technicians Online Start-Up Certification Course Now Available

NPC the pioneer in plaster-related education announced the launch of their online Start-Up Technician Certification Class.

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Pool Technicians - Online Start-Up Certficiation

Pool Technicians now have expanded education and certification opportunities. The popularity of NPC’s well-known Start-Up program and certification continues to grow. The next in-person course will be offered in San Antonio and the Southwest Pool & Spa Show on January 19, 2022.

In order to meet the demand, the pioneer in plaster-related education announced the launch of their online NPC Start-Up Technician Certification Class. Now pool technicians can become certified to perform pool start-ups. A newly plastered pool necessitates unique start-up procedures to ensure the appropriate plaster cure.

The Start-up Technician Certification Program is a project of the National Plasterers Council (NPC) to establish the right protocol for a pool’s initial start-up. With this program, the NPC has created the industry standard for the installation and maintenance of plastered pools all over the world. NPC Certified Technicians possess the industry knowledge and hands-on experience required to conduct a satisfactory start-up for in-ground swimming pools and spas utilizing the NPC-approved procedure taught in the Certification Class.

Start-up Technician Certficiation Program Syllabus

  • Basics of Plastering Materials & Applications
  • Basics of Pool Water Chemistry
  •  Review of Various Test Kits & Testing Methods
  • General Start-up Procedures and Timeline
  • Understanding the Langelier Saturation Index
  • Identification of Common Problems & Solutions

This is a three-hour online course that will certify you in the National Plasterers Council industry method of properly starting up a pool and establishing the proper water chemistry for caring for a newly surfaced swimming pool and/or spa.

Registration: NPC Members $225 | Non-Members $325

This is an online on-demand course that pool service technicians can take whenever they like within 30 days of registering.

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Taking a New Career Path During Covid – Lauren Broom, CPO Instructor

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Taking a New Career Path During Covid - Lauren Broom, CPO Instructor

Lauren Broom is a relatively new face to some but the CPO instructor has been branching out and making a name for herself in the pool industry. Over the last couple of years, she has reinvented herself during the pandemic as a top-rated provider of virtual CPO courses.

Pool contractors in the state of Florida have known Broom for years. Working for Florida Health for almost 17 years; she was a health inspector and regulator. During the past decade, she’s been interacting daily with them in the course of her day-to-day role. Many don’t realize that Broom has actually been teaching CPO courses just about as long. Now a Certified Pool Operator PHTA Instructor, Broom separated from Florida Health back in August of 2020 to start her own business, Space Coast Pool School.

Changing Career Paths During Covid

Transitioning from regulator and inspector to full-time CPO instructor was a change Broom was longing to make. Like many during the pandemic, Broom suddenly realized that if she was looking for a sign to make a change in her career, this was it. “What COVID did, was it opened doors for me,” said Broom, “It opened up the CPO class to go virtual. Since April of 2020, they’ve had everything set up for us to start teaching virtual certified pool operator courses.”

“I think that the Pool & Hot Tub Alliance, which I’m certified through, has the people and resources to get that training standardized and then get it out to us instructors to able to teach,” said Broom.

Transitioning To Full-Time CPO Instructor

In explaining what prompted her to want to seek a new career path, Broom explained, “I had plateaued at the health department. The room for growth was over. I came to realize that I wanted to pursue education rather than regulation as a passion.”

The space for offering these services welcomes a fresh new approach and so far Broom has been very successful in disseminating her online program. Aside from being one of the leading female instructors offering virtual courses, what Broom says often distinguishes her program is her prior expertise as a health inspector and regulator. “I come from a different part of the industry than a lot of the instructors. I understand the regulations that a lot of people are dealing with because many times they will be dealing with commercial pools,” said Broom.

With her expertise being in health regulation and safety, Broom said she is looking to expand on the courses she offers and plans to begin teaching a live OSHA-10 certification course soon. While this new course will be able to be taken online, the requirements still stipulate that it be a live course and not pre-recorded.

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Lauren Broom has been teaching CPO classes for over a decade.
CPO Instructor – Lauren Broom has been teaching CPO classes for over a decade.

In explaining how she developed her virtual CPO course, Broom explained that over the past decade of teaching face-to-face courses, she had developed many materials that translated well to a video series. “A lot of people like to go to CPO courses for the interaction they get with instructors. During COVID we were unable to do that so I began developing videos of the same material I would cover in my in-person classes,” said Broom.

In developing her content library, Broom said that while she draws inspiration from what others are doing in the industry, her focus is on generating her own educational materials that speak to the content she is teaching.

“It’s all my content, I’m not taking someone else’s YouTubes or borrowing someone else’s material. I create all of my own so it’s done how I would teach it. I’m using my own equipment, so when I pull out my peristaltic pump or my erosion feeder, I’m explaining those components and what they do,” said Broom.

In creating her materials, she explained how she tries to bring value by developing a course that is an engaging online learning experience for students. “I’m a true believer that you have to have some fun in class. If it’s more fun it’s easier to learn. I try to bring that wall down so they can learn better. If they’re not so worried about that test on the second day, they’re going to learn a lot more.”

Graduates of Lauren Broom's CPO Class at Space Coast Pool School
Graduates of Lauren Broom’s CPO Class at Space Coast Pool School

One of the ways Broom is working towards achieving that goal is with her podcast “Let’s Talk About Pools” which she started earlier this year. During a thought-provoking conversation with Terry Arko over at Hasa earlier this year, they discussed the recent chemical shortages that have been plaguing the industry. It’s that type of material that the industry finds invaluable. This fresh new ‘boots on the ground’ perspective, being what many are seeking for better clarity during this climate.

In understanding Broom’s decision to reinvent herself, making a sudden shift in her career plans was a sentiment shared by millions. In the wake of COVID, many chose to switch career paths rather than go back to their previous employer.

Consequently, the past two years we’ve all had to adapt to doing business differently. Broom choosing to capitalize on the ability to transition to offering courses online and working to establish herself as a leading CPO instructor were a risk she was willing to take. So far the gamble to make a radical transition in her career path has been paying off.

Listen to our complete discussion with Lauren Broom on the Pool Magazine podcast

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