What Duties Do California Public Pool Operators Have Towards Users?

Every Californian knows that if you can’t make it to the beach, a nice pool is almost as good on a sunny day.  But swimming pool accidents can happen quickly if they aren’t maintained properly and if appropriate safety precautions aren’t taken.  For that reason, the State of California has passed a set of laws collectively known as the “California Pool Code” to set out the legal requirements operators of public pools must meet to ensure they are providing a safe environment for their community to relax in.

Lifeguards and Safety Equipment

Nearly every public pool in California is required to provide a lifeguard.  For the few that don’t, if they elect not to provide lifeguard services they must have signs posted clearly indicating that no lifeguard is on duty.  When public pools do provide lifeguards they must be trained in first aid and CPR, and must keep their training up-to-date.

In addition, public pools must have adequate safety equipment on hand to protect the safety of guests.  At a minimum, all pools must have a first aid kit, a telephone, and a backboard with a head and neck restraint.  Large pools must also provide at least two rescue poles and ring-style life preservers. Pools must also be enclosed by a fence or another structure designed to control access to the pool.

Sanitation and Maintenance

Operators of public pools are also required to keep the pool clean to ensure the safety of its users.  This includes keeping the pool free from debris like leaves, trash, or floating algae, and keeping the areas around the pool free from clutter or other safety hazards.  It also includes keeping the water itself clean and safe. The water should be clear enough to see the bottom of the pool, and must be treated with chlorine or another appropriate chemical disinfectant.  The pool operator must test the water at least once every day to confirm the levels of chemicals in the water are safe. The pool operator is also responsible for ensuring that nobody uses the pool that has a contagious disease that could endanger the health or safety of other pool users.


Finally, operators of public pools are required to cooperate with their county’s department of public health or other agency responsible for ensuring the safety of public pools.  An agent must inspect the pool before it opens to the public and conduct periodic inspections to certify the pool remains in compliance with the Pool Code. Every day the pool operates out-of-compliance with the code constitutes a separate misdemeanor offense punishable by up to six months in jail and/or a fine of between $50 and $1,000.

A day at the poolside can and should be a great way to beat the heat during a California summer, but a negligent operator can turn fun in the sun into a nightmare in a heartbeat.  At our firm, we’ve been representing clients who have been injured using public facilities like pools for years. If you’ve been injured or had other problems while using a public pool and want to know more about your rights, please contact J&Y Law today for a free consultation.