The HOA pool season is just around the corner. With that in mind, board members must prepare ahead of time to ensure everything is working smoothly.
The following article is based on the 2021 Pool Season Webinar Cedar hosted. You can watch the full webinar below.
COVID-19 and the HOA Pool Season 2021
It has been more than a year since the coronavirus pandemic forced establishments and public facilities to close down. With vaccines rolling out, states have started to relax restrictions, though many staples still remain. So, how does COVID-19 affect the HOA pool season for the year 2021?
On March 23, Governor Roy Cooper issued an executive order easing restriction in North Carolina. According to the executive order, outdoor pools can now operate at 100% capacity, though swim meets and parties must still maintain 50% capacity.
Pool attendees must maintain 6 feet between them. If social distancing is not possible, face coverings must be worn. It is also recommended for HOAs to conduct periodic cleaning.
The executive order is set to expire on April 30, 2021.
South Carolina has not issued an order concerning capacity limits for outdoor pools. But, the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) does recommend following the COVID-19 CDC guidelines for public pools.
According to these guidelines, patrons and visitors must practice proper social distancing and wear cloth masks. When presumed ill, residents must stay home and isolate themselves to mitigate the spread of the disease.
The CDC also encourages limiting the occupancy in enclosed spaces such as bathrooms and locker rooms. In doing so, patrons will have an easier time keeping 6 feet between them.
Other guidelines include practicing hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette, posting signs at the entrances, and ensuring sufficient supplies (soap, accessible sinks, hand sanitizers, etc.) Refer to the CDC website for more information.
South Carolinians should monitor https://accelerate.sc.gov/ for updates and announcements. Homeowners associations should also ask their legal counsel or management company for advice on how to handle liability.
Understanding Capacity and Occupancy Limits
What does it mean to operate at 100% capacity? For fire safety reasons, outdoor pools can only accommodate a specific number of people depending on the square footage of the area. The fire rating capacity allows 24 people per thousand square feet.
The formula for calculating the capacity is as follows:
(Total Square Footage ÷ 1,000) x 24
It is worth noting that the total square footage in the formula is the total area inside your pool fence. That includes your pool deck as well as the pool itself.
Seasonal Planning for the Pool Season
Although pool season only runs for a few months out of the year, preparation and pool maintenance is a year-long affair. Here are the things you should keep in mind per season.
March is the time when you should be preparing the pool for opening. This is when you put out pool furniture, remove pool covers, and de-winterize. Make sure the filters are running smoothly, the gates are working, and the chemicals are well-balanced. Pool furniture should also be in good condition.
It may seem strange to do these things in March if you don’t intend to open until May. But, in North Carolina, public pools have to go through a pre-inspection and get permitted. Keep in mind that the state still recognizes HOA pools as public pools even though they are not technically open to the general public.
Because pre-inspections only start on the first business day of April, it is best to prepare your pool area and schedule the inspection ahead of time. Inspections also take time, and you need to be fitted into the schedule. You can receive either a seasonal permit or an annual permit, which lets you open your pool prior to April 1.
If you do want to open your pool early, apart from getting the proper permit, you must make sure to clear it with your pool management company. Since opening dates are contractual, your pool management company will need to adjust some things to accommodate your request. This might also mean incurring additional costs for your HOA.
According to new regulations in North Carolina, pool phones must now work both ways. Apart from allowing you to call 911 using the pool phone, 911 operators must also be able to call you back on the same phone. This is to avoid problems in case of disconnections. Pool phones are an integral part of securing a permit, so make sure yours work accordingly.
Pool Motors and Electrical Safety
If your pool motor fails to function, you must immediately replace it. This also means having to hire a licensed electrician to fix the wiring and ensure the breaker is GFCI-protected. You will also need to undergo an electrical inspection for the pool motor to pass legally. All of this takes time so it is best to schedule this during springtime.
Moreover, there has been a recent shortage of materials. Filters, motors, pumps, and the like are scarce, so that may also affect the timing of things for your HOA.
Summertime is when people enjoy the pool the most. But, that does not mean you should ignore maintenance. If you notice something that smells, looks, or sounds wrong, make sure to have your pool management company check it. Be in constant communication with your service technicians.
Come the fall season, take the time to sit down with your pool management company to review the good and the bad. See if there are any facility components or processes you can improve upon. It is always best to do this in the pool area because it allows you to see things with your own eyes.
This is also when you should expect a Fall Inspection Report from your pool management company. Review this report thoroughly and plan your budget accordingly. Don’t put this off until near the start of the next pool season or else you will be in a time crunch.
The fall season is also the time to ensure you are VGB compliant. This act is named after Virginia Graeme Baker, a young girl who unfortunately died because she got stuck to the main drain.
You must change main drains every so often, though the exact timeframe will depend on the brand you have. Some main drains can last only five years, while others can last up to seven years. Others go for as long as 10 or even 15 years.
Your pool management company should stay on top of this. They are the ones to track the dates in a PDSC form and tell you when you need to swap them out. If your main drain expires in the middle of pool season, then you will have to change it out prior to permitting.
This inspection checks whether or not your metal components are properly connected by a copper wire that runs all the way back to the pump room. In doing so, any stray voltage that runs through those metal components becomes less of a shock hazard. This protects the swimmers in your community pool.
And then comes winter. Although the pool is just about the last thing on your mind at this point, it is important to remember that spring is only a few months away. The winter season is the best time to make any capital improvements. It is also when you should start planning for the next HOA pool season.
Make sure to perform proper winterization as well. Call your pool management company to verify if they have shut off the water to the building. Your pool management company will also be in charge of switching off the pumps, putting on the covers, and securing the facility.
While they take the burden off your shoulders, it is best to understand the reason behind your pool management company’s decisions.
A Safe and Enjoyable Pool Season
The 2021 HOA pool season is finally here, and residents can start having some aquatic fun. But, without proper planning and practice, your pool and the swimmers in it will suffer. Get a head start on preparations today with the help of your pool management company or HOA management company.
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