Safety warning over illegal pools in Bahrain
Manama, July 11, 2014
Inspectors have been facing difficulties in taking action against illegal private swimming pools in Bahrain, which put people's lives at risk.
They have been unable to enter the facilities without permission from the police, said Health Ministry prevention of drowning committee head Zahra Nasser.
The inspections are part of a nationwide campaign that is underway this summer to ensure all private swimming pools meet international safety standards, said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
Four people have drowned since the start of the year compared to five in the first six months last year.
According to figures, a total of 15 people drowned at sea and pools last year.
Nasser said there were a total of 52 seasonal pools in Bahrain, which were rented out daily until August.
"Some of these pools are private and are unlicensed, but rented during summer on daily basis," she told the GDN.
"Our inspectors are not allowed to enter unless they have permission letter from police, so it's difficult to inspect these pools, some of which do illegal activities.
"And that's the reason we don't have proper figures this year and the last of how many illegal pools are there.
"Many families and individuals rent these pools but risk their lives as we don't know if these pools are safe for them or not."
She said several workshops are being held to raise awareness among people who hire dodgy pools.
"We suggest people should not hire illegal pools for their own safety," she said.
"These pools are not inspected by government bodies, so they are marked unsafe.
"We are concerned about public pools, which are mostly used by families and children."
If a violation is committed, then the owner will be warned three times before the facility is closed, said Nasser.
"Violations include polluted water, high percentage of chlorine in the water or lack of it, and shortage or lack of hygiene and health requirements and other services like health facilities and lounges," she explained.
"We send three warnings and fine BD10 ($26) for the first time and BD20 second time.
"Then we take legal action against them and close the pool in the presence of police."
For the last two years, the committee in co-operation with the Interior Ministry, Civil Defence and Coastguard, have been educating people about pools safety.
"We have printed booklets and leaflets for our safety campaign," said Nasser.
"This is in addition to educational lectures in educational institutions where our targets are students, parents and teachers.
"We have a summer programme to cover this aspect in youth clubs and women's groups to educate the public.
"Inspection is done on the safety of swimming pools, their facilities and methods of drainage and safety of electrical wiring and storing chemicals used to sterilise and disinfect water.
"We also ask the owners to put the gas cylinders far away from pools and keep first aid kit for emergency cases.
"Life guards and rescuers must have a degree in the field of training on rescue."
Swimming pools are officially licensed by the Industry and Commerce Ministry and the Health Ministry, which has the power to order their closure. Legislation was introduced in 1999 that requires pools in private residences to undergo safety inspection before they can be rented out.
Bahrain also launched a campaign in 2006 to crackdown on unsupervised and insanitary swimming pools in hotels and apartment buildings following an outbreak of viral conjunctivitis. - TradeArabia News Service