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Safe Water

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Recreational water facilities

Swimming is a great physical activity associated with health and relaxation. However, pool and spa water can contain bacteria and other germs that cause illnesses. If pools and spas are operated safely, water related illnesses can be prevented. In Ontario, there is a law to ensure public pools, spas, wading pools and splash pads are operated in a safe manner. We routinely inspect recreational water facilities and follow up on complaints from the public. Owners and operators of recreational water facilities that are open to the public must comply with the regulations and operating standards to protect the health and safety of bathers. 

We conduct routine inspections of public pools to help prevent or reduce water-related illnesses, injuries and drownings. Pool inspections verify the health and safety requirements outlined under provincial and local laws are being met. Residential pools available for rent by the public that are not routinely inspected can pose serious risks to your health and safety. To help reduce the health and safety risks associated with recreational water use, only visit pools inspected by the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit. A list of inspected recreational water facilities is available on our Inspection Connection webpage.

  • Shower with soap before you start swimming to remove lotions, natural body oils and bacteria.
  • Don't swim when you have diarrhea or have had diarrhea within the past two weeks. Even small amounts of fecal matter can contaminate an entire pool or hot tub.
  • Take frequent bathroom breaks.
  • Wash your hands after using the toilet or changing diapers.
  • Take children on bathroom breaks or check diapers frequently (approximately every 30-60 minutes).
  • Change diapers in the bathroom or diaper-changing area, not at the poolside where germs can rinse into the water.
  • Don't swallow the water you swim in.

Admission Standards for Public Pools were developed by the Office of the Chief Coroner to support lifeguards and assistant lifeguards in maintaining adequate surveillance over the activities of young swimmers while they are inside the pool enclosure. The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care supports these recommendations for the purposes of preventing injuries and fatalities.

  • Children under the age of 10 years who are non-swimmers must be accompanied by a parent or guardian who is responsible for their direct supervision. The ratio of non-swimmers to parents or guardians may be a maximum of four bathers to one parent or guardian (4:1). The ratio of non-swimmers to parent or guardian may be increased to a maximum of eight bathers to one parent or guardian (8:1) if life jackets are worn by all non-swimmers.
  • Children under the age of 10 who are swimmers must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. These children should be able to demonstrate comfort in the water and pass the facility swim test.
  • Children under the age of six years may not be admitted to the swimming pool unless they are accompanied by a parent or guardian who is responsible for their direct supervision, with a maximum of two children for each parent or guardian.
  • Guardians or group leaders are responsible for the direct supervision of children in their care at all times while in the facility.
  • Guardians or group leaders should be at least 12 years of age.
  • Ratios of instructors/lifeguards to bathers must also be maintained as per Ontario Regulation 565.
  • Class B Public Pools that do not require lifeguards still require bathers under 12 years of age to be accompanied by a parent or his or her agent who is not less than 16 years of age.


Adapted with permission from the Sudbury & District Health Unit
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