We all share the water we swim in. Swimmers should take simple steps to protect themselves, their friends and their family from germs when planning to jump or dive in to a pool, lake, spa or ocean.
Six Signs You Should Look For Before Jumping In
- Pools need constant attention: monitoring the chemicals is crucial to a healthy pool. If it appears the pool attendant is consistently distracted, the pool’s chlorine level may be compromised and you could come in contact with bad bugs like norovirus, which can cause vomiting and cramps.
- If the pool water isn’t sparkling and clear, avoid it. Lack of visibility poses a huge threat – no one can see if you went under.
- While babies are adorable, pre-potty-trained babies can easily contaminate an entire pool with diaper leakage.
- If you see a distinct green-colored film floating on a lake’s surface, there may be algae you can’t see. Don’t take the plunge and don't let your pet jump in either.
- If you see a line of foam, seaweed, or other debris pulled in the opposite direction (out into the ocean) there could be a riptide offshore. Even a strong swimmer is no match for those kind of runaway currents.
- A crowded pool multiplies the bacteria, germs and viruses that are in the water. Wait and jump in later.
A major health issue: Diarrhea
The pool is the last place you should be if you are sick with diarrhea. Most swimming-related outbreaks reported to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are caused by diarrheal germs like Crypto (short for Cryptosporidium), Giardia, Shigella, norovirus, and E. coli O157:H7. Crypto outbreaks linked to swimming are increasing and are particularly hard to control because the germ is not easily killed by chlorine.
Just one diarrheal incident in the water can release millions of germs. If someone swallows a mouthful of the water, it can cause diarrhea lasting up to three weeks. That’s why it’s so important not to swim or let your kids swim if sick with diarrhea.
Top Five Pool/Spa Safety Tips
- Stay out of the water if you or your child is sick with diarrhea or have an open wound.
- Don’t drink the water. Tell your children not to drink the water.
- Shower before you get in the water. Rinsing off in the shower for just a minute helps get rid of any germs that may be on your body.
- Take your children on bathroom breaks every hour.
- Check diapers and change them in a bathroom or diaper-changing area (not poolside) to keep germs away from the pool.
For more information about Harris County Public Health’s Swimming Pool and Spa Program, call 713.274.6300.