Should HOAs Close Community Pools During COVID-19?

HOAs are now implementing measures that will lessen or prevent the transmission of the coronavirus in their communities. One common question that many HOA boards face is whether to close community pools during COVID-19. Before you decide, here are important things to consider.

Community Pools During COVID-19: Should You Close Them or Not?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is no evidence to suggest that COVID-19 can be spread through the use of recreational waters — such as swimming pools in HOA communities.

Chlorine, bromine, and other chemicals used to clean and disinfect pools can deactivate the coronavirus. This means that you are not likely to catch the coronavirus from swimming in the community pool.

However, outside the water, there is still a chance that you could catch the coronavirus from other people or to a lesser extent, from touching surfaces in the community pool area. As a result, many HOAs decided to close community pools during the start of the coronavirus pandemic as a precautionary measure.

As communities are starting to reopen, the CDC has released a new set of guidelines for public aquatic venues, which can be useful for HOA board members during COVID-19. Combined with social distancing and healthy hygiene practices, these guidelines can significantly reduce the potential risk of COVID-19 transmission in your community pool area.

 

Important Guidelines for Keeping Community Pools Open During Coronavirus

If you’re planning to open community pools during COVID-19, HOAs must implement safety measures that will protect their community members.

Here are important guidelines to consider:

1. Following Social Distancing Rules

social distancing | close community poolsIt will be hard for homeowners to follow social distancing rules if your community pool area is crowded. The HOA can encourage social distancing by limiting the number of people who can access the swimming pool at any given time. You can set up an online reservation system or a sign-up sheet for specific time blocks so that all homeowners have a chance to use the community pool. It would also be best to have someone patrol the area so that everyone follows the social distancing rules.

2. Adjust Pool Furniture

Another way to encourage social distancing is to make sure that the lounge chairs, picnic tables, and other furniture in your community pool area are six to 10 feet apart.

3. Use Cloth Face Coverings

The CDC does not recommend wearing cloth face masks while in the water. However, when outside the swimming pool, guests should wear their face masks to reduce the potential risk of coronavirus transmission. Wearing of face masks must be strictly enforced if it is difficult to maintain social distancing in your community pool area.  

4. Install Sanitation Stations

Install sanitation stations near high-touch areas such as the light switches, door handles, and elevator buttons. Make sure that the restrooms and shower areas have an adequate supply of hand soap and paper towels. The HOA can also place hand sanitizers (with at least 60% alcohol) and disinfectant wipes in different areas around the swimming pool so that guests can easily clean and disinfect their surroundings.

5. Place Signs and Visual Cues that Promote Safe Behaviors

HOAs should place signs in the swimming pool area to remind homeowners to practice safe behaviors. You can have a list of rules outside so that everyone can read them before entering the swimming pool. If you have a PA system, the HOA can make regular announcements over the air. In high-traffic areas such as the shower room, place visual cues to encourage social distancing. You can place protection tape on the floor to keep homeowners at a safe distance while waiting for their turn.

6. Clean and Disinfect the Community Pool Area

The community pool area should be regularly cleaned and disinfected, but due to the coronavirus, pool maintenance must be done more frequently and thoroughly. Contact your maintenance company to ensure they are using EPA- approved products for cleaning and disinfecting your community pool area.

Make sure to target high-touch surfaces such as handrails, door handles, tabletops, lounge chairs, handwashing stations, diaper-changing stations, and showers. Cleaning and disinfecting the pool area should be done daily at the very least. If you have shared items such as kickboards and pool noodles, they should be cleaned in between each use.

7. Educate Community Members About COVID-19 Guidelines

educate | close community pools

HOA board members must work together with the homeowners during these uncertain times. By educating them about the community’s COVID-19 guidelines, you will be able to make common areas such as the swimming pool safer for everyone. Remind them to stay at home if they are feeling sick, have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, or belong to a high-risk group.  

 

Can HOA Board Members Get Into Trouble for Opening Community Pools During COVID-19?

HOA board members should consult their governing documents before deciding to open or close community pools during COVID-19. Your governing documents will have provisions on how to handle emergencies or crises. In such cases, the board may be granted emergency powers. They can enact certain policies such as closing community pools and other communal areas.

If the HOA is planning to reopen community pools, board members should first consult HOA management and local health officials. The HOA management company can help board members with creating and enforcing safety guidelines for the community. Meanwhile, local health officials can give the go signal whether it is safe to reopen community pools. This step is important if your HOA is in an area with a high number of confirmed coronavirus cases.

If the HOA board makes an informed decision — one that prioritizes the safety of the community — they should not get into trouble for opening the community pool area during COVID-19. If you need further guidance, consult an HOA attorney to ensure the community’s safety guidelines are compliant with the law.

Regardless of your decision, make sure to communicate with your homeowners. The coronavirus pandemic has put us all in uncharted waters so the simple act of talking to residents can help. If homeowners want the pool open, make sure they understand their personal responsibility in ensuring their health during this pandemic.

 

What to Do With Community Pools During COVID-19

Ultimately, the decision to keep community pools open or closed during COVID-19 is up to you. What’s important is that HOA boards educate themselves about this issue. They should consider all possible scenarios, and then make a decision based on their resources and capabilities.

Each community member is responsible for his/her own health. But, that doesn’t mean that HOAs cannot implement measures that will protect their community during COVID-19.

 

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Everything You Need To Know About Making And Wearing Face Masks

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now recommends the use of face masks in public to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus disease, or COVID-19, in the United States. HOAs should take note of these guidelines to further prevent coronavirus transmission in their communities. Here’s everything you need to know about making and wearing face masks.

In this article:

 

The Importance of Wearing Face Masks

According to the CDC, everyone should wear cloth face coverings or face masks when going out of their homes. New studies have shown that people who are asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic can transmit the coronavirus.

About 25% of people who have the coronavirus do not exhibit symptoms such as coughing or sneezing so it’s possible that they don’t even know that they are positive for COVID-19. This means that even you or the person beside you could be an asymptomatic carrier.

For your protection and the protection of others, it’s important to wear face masks in public settings or when interacting with people in close proximity.

Take note, though, that the CDC does not recommend the use of surgical face masks or N-95 respirators if you are not a healthcare professional. These are personal protective equipment (PPE) that is in critical supply so they should be set aside for healthcare workers and medical first responders.

 

When to Use Face Masks?

Face masks should be worn in all public settings, especially in areas where 6-feet social distancing is difficult to maintain and in areas where there has been a significant community-based transmission of COVID-19.

This means wearing a simple cloth or homemade face mask when going to the grocery, pharmacy, or other public places.

All essential non-medical workers should also be wearing face masks. This is already a mandate in several cities such as New York City and Los Angeles.

 

Who Should Not Wear Face Masks?

There are some exceptions as to who should be wearing face masks. This includes children under the age of 2, individuals who have difficulty breathing, and people who are incapacitated or unconscious.

Generally, those who are wearing face masks should be able to remove them without needing assistance.

 

How to Make a DIY Face Mask

Given the shelter-in-place order, as well as the scarcity of medical-grade face masks, there is no need to leave your home to purchase face masks. You can easily create a face mask using materials that you already have at home.

For instance, a bandana face mask or a t-shirt face mask already provides adequate protection from COVID-19.

It has been established that though coronavirus particles are very tiny, they are commonly transmitted when stuck to water or mucus droplets that are released when someone with COVID-19 coughs, sneezes, or talks.

These droplets are much larger, and homemade masks are enough to block them. So, wearing a face mask made of cotton or flannel can prevent asymptomatic carriers from spreading the virus, or non-infected individuals from catching COVID-19.

tshirt face covering v2 | how to wear mask

How to Sew Face Masks

Here’s what you need to know when creating a DIY cloth face mask.

Materials You Will Need:

  • Cotton Fabric (Quilted Fabric or Flannel as Alternatives)
  • Elastic (Rubber Bands, Hair Ties, or String as Alternatives)
  • Needle
  • Thread
  • Scissors
  • Sewing Machine

Instructions:

  1. Cut two pieces of rectangles from your cotton fabric. They should measure 10 inches by 6 inches.
  2. Place the fabric on top of each other. This will create a double layer for your face mask.
  3. Form a 1/4-inch fold on the top and bottom of the fabric. Sew or hem the fabric.
  4. Make a 1/2-inch fold on the sides of the fabric. Sew or hem the sides.
  5. Cut two pieces of elastic or string. It should be around 6-inches long and 1/8-inch wide.
  6. Attach a needle or safety pin on one end of the elastic. Thread elastics through each side of the face mask.
  7. Create a knot to keep the elastic in place. Tuck the knot inside the hem.
  8. Gather the sides of the face mask. Place a mask on your face. Make sure that the mask covers your face and the elastic is tight enough that the mask doesn’t fall down.
  9. Make adjustments if necessary.

 

DIY T-Shirt Mask

If you do not have a sewing machine, or cannot hand-sew, you can still create your own face mask. Here’s how to make a t-shirt face mask:

Materials:

  • T-shirt
  • Scissors
  • Strings

Instructions:

  1. Cut the bottom end of a t-shirt. It should be about 7-8 inches in height.
  2. Place t-shirt fabric on a flat surface. Measure about 6-7 inches on one side of the fabric.
  3. Cut the fabric. These long, thin parts will serve as the strings of your face mask.
  4. Cut the thin ends of the fabric.
  5. Wear the t-shirt face mask and tie the strings over the top of your head and around your neck.

 

How to Make a Bandana Face Mask

The Surgeon General also has a guide on how you can create a bandana face mask without any sewing. Check out the video below:

When creating a bandana face mask, make sure the fabric you are using is thick enough. Also, the bandana face mask should fit snugly on your face and shouldn’t be falling down.

 

How to Wear Face Masks

Simply having a face mask isn’t enough; you should also know how to wear masks properly. Here are some important guidelines on how to use a face mask.

  • Cloth masks should fit comfortably on your face. It should cover both your nose and mouth.
  • A face mask should have at least two layers of fabric for adequate protection.
  • The face mask should be secured on your ears with elastic or ties.
  • You should be able to breathe comfortably while wearing the face mask.
  • When removing the face mask, make sure not to touch your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Wash your hands after removing the face mask.
  • The face mask should be washed regularly. Ideally, it should be laundered after being used in public. Putting it in the washing machine will suffice.

 

Is Wearing a Face Mask Enough?

It’s important to remember that a face mask alone isn’t enough to protect you from COVID-19. You should still follow other safety guidelines such as washing your hands often and observing social distancing.

Similarly, just because you are wearing a face mask doesn’t mean that you can start going out in public again. The best way to protect yourself from COVID-19 is to limit your potential exposure to the virus.

Thus, staying home is still the best preventive measure.

 

Wearing Face Masks Can Protect You, Your Family, and Your Community

Given the devastating effects of COVID-19, it is our social and moral responsibility to not only protect ourselves but also those around us.

While we still have so much to learn about the novel coronavirus, we do know that wearing face masks can prevent asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic carriers from transmitting the disease. It also reduces our chances of catching COVID-19 when out in public.

So, by now, you know the importance of wearing face masks and how to make one for yourself. You can even take social responsibility to the next level by making extra face masks for the members of your community.