Pool & Spa Safety

poolSwim Safe!

  • Look: Make sure you can see the bottom of the pool. Cloudiness is both gross and increases the likelihood of drowning for young swimmers!
  • Smell: Make sure there are no strong chemical smells, which is not a sign of proper chlorination, but rather a sign of contamination.
  • Check: Ask to see the water quality results posted at every public pool.
  • Shower before you enter the pool or spa.
  • Wear water specific attire & make sure it is free of dirt or residue.
  • Ensure pool toys and flotation devices are cleaned before and after use.
  • Avoid getting in the water if you have diarrhea.
  • Don’t pee or poop in the pool or spa.
    • Report all incidents to pool staff immediately for proper handling.
  • Make sure children take potty breaks and check swim diapers at least once an hour.
  • Don’t swallow the water


VDH works to ensure healthy swimming is made possible for all the people of the Commonwealth. VDH inspects swimming pools located at hotels, campgrounds, water parks and theme parks, as well as some public pools. For hotel and campground pools, VDH is involved in ensuring the pool’s safe design and construction.

VDH inspections are only part of the pool safety that establishments must maintain for the entire open season of a public pool. It is the pool operator’s responsibility to ensure that daily precautions are taken while VDH ensures compliance through routine inspections. Some of the most important things VDH looks for during different types of pool inspections include:


  • Usage of only approved water sources- ones deemed safe & free of sewage or waste water.
  • Cleanliness of the pool shell and the surrounding surfaces.
  • Sufficient number of ladders and an adequate gated area around the pool.
  • Good lighting both inside and around the pool.
  • Proper depth marking on the pools edge.
  • Adequate circulation of pool water and clarity of water color.
  • Clean, operational filters- free of hair & scum!
  • Working filter room with sufficient and properly operating equipment to manage pool.
  • Testing of pH levels and Chlorine residuals.
  • Properly maintained logs and public posting of pool water quality results.
  • Lifeguard present during all hours of operation or “No Lifeguard” signage visible to guests.
  • Proper life saving equipment available.
  • General cleanliness and absence of safety hazards for all public swimmers.

Additionally, in some localities, VDH offers training for public pool operators to help establish proper safety standards for all pools and spas in the Commonwealth. Pool operators should call their local health department to find classes closest to them.


  • Click the links below to learn more about water health and safety:

Recreational Water Illnesses   ♦  Drowning and Swimming-Related Injuries  ♦  Pool and Spa Safety 

Swimming in Natural Waters  ♦ Healthy Swimming Pledge

Swimming Pool Regulations Governing the Posting of Water Quality Test Results

Regulations Governing Tourist Establishment Swimming Pools and Other Public Pools

CDC guidance on hyperchlorination and fecal events in pools