New Haven

Waterbury to begin new safety program for city pools

WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) - As Waterbury begins the unofficial kickoff to summer, city crews are busy working to get city pools ready to open on June 30th. But, there's a big change coming this summer and you'd better know about it before you try to swim in one of the city's pools.

This summer, Waterbury residents must register online before they show up to swim. It's part of a computer software program called Residents must register online at starting June 4th then they have to go to the River-Baldwin Rec Center at 135 East Liberty Street -- with proof of residency -- and get a picture taken.

When they show up at a city pool, the attendant will match their info with the info that's in the computer system.

"It gives us more accountability to who's in the pool," said Victor Cuevas, Waterbury's Recreation Director. 

Cuevas says the system helps in several other ways, too, and all of them are in the name of safety and better protecting kids.

"Last year was really problematic," Cuevas said. "We had some issues at the pool where folks came in, we didn't know their names, they started some issues."

He says the old procedure required people to sign-in on pieces of paper. The problem with that is many people used bogus names.

"Muhammed Ali, LeBron James, we've seen it all," he said. 

Cuevas also says knowing who's in the pool is very important in case something goes wrong and because there's a section that requires people to answer some personal questions, it will also help people in the pool if a medical scare -- or accident happens.

"Parents are able to tell us information about their children," he said. "There's a section that'll ask you about specifics -- if your kid is asthmatic, if your child is allergic to bee stings."

And if there's an accident at the pool, it will help the city notify parents faster because the computer system will tell them who their parents are and how to contact them.

Fliers will go out to parents of every public school student next week. The city will also send out alerts to parents on their cell phones.

"It creates a safer environment," Cuevas said.

Another big change -- children under 12 will only be allowed in if they're with a registered person who is 16 or older. Cuevas hopes this will prevent adults from dropping off their child alone -- leaving them with no one but the pool staff to look out for them. 

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