The Cayman Islands has adopted International Swimming Pool and Spa Code safety standards but is not currently implementing all of the requirements listed in the code, which is used primarily in the United States.
Cayman appears to specifically fall short of the code’s requirements when it comes to swimming pool barriers. The ISPSC standards call for all outdoor swimming pools to be surrounded by a barrier that is at least four feet tall. It also details requirements for homes where doors or windows provide direct access to a pool, such as installing alarms if they’re opened.
“That’s correct,” Department of Environmental Health Director Richard Simms confirmed. “But it is something we will be looking into for possible implementation.”
The DEH is the entity responsible for checking pool owners in Cayman – both private, residential pools and those at tourism-licensed facilities – are complying with requirements.
Most of those specifications deal with design, testing and other construction and planning matters.
When it comes to safety in the water, local pool owners are required only to have depth markings on the outside of the pool (for tourism accommodations only), safety and warning signs and lifesaving equipment, like a ring buoy or accessory pole for pulling people out of the water.
“I would support the idea of adding those things, but currently those are not things that we definitely require at the moment”
Those requirements not only fall short of the ISPSC standards but are also not as stringent as in other jurisdictions.
“I think Cayman should review their regulations in light of recent pool tragedies,” said Peter Hughes, who is responsible for first aid and aquatics programmes at the Cayman Islands Red Cross. “I think DEH would drive those changes.”
In Bermuda, for example, the law requires barrier-safety features nearly identical to those listed in the ISPSC. Florida does as well, and even goes as far as listing certain requirements for door locks if those doors allow entry to a pool. The Australian government this year adopted new standards requiring pool fencing.
“I would support the idea of adding those things, but currently those are not things that we definitely require at the moment,” Simms said. “But we would… consider that. Any additional safety requirements that would save people’s lives, we should definitely consider those.”
DEH representatives are responsible for checking that pools under construction meet Cayman’s standards and reporting back to the Department of Planning.
Simms said the DEH works with the Department of Tourism on pool-safety standards. While he said the agency would consider additional safety requirements, he also points to the low number of pool drownings in Cayman as a sign that current requirements work.
“It has proven to be working,” Simms said. “We make sure that all safety procedures are in place should anything happen.”