Prevention & Recovery

How to avoid germs at the pool

By: Colleen Tully

Author: Canadian Living

Prevention & Recovery

How to avoid germs at the pool

By: Colleen Tully
One of the best forms of exercise, swimming gives the whole body a work out while taking a load off joints and bones. A trip to the municipal pool is a great, inexpensive outing for kids and parents to cool off, play together, splash around and bond as a family.

A swimming pool is also a perfect place for germs to thrive. If your family frequents a pool with irresponsible cleaning practices, or another swimmer fails to swim healthy, your family could easily get infected with bacteria or a virus.

Questions to ask your municipal pool staff
1. How often is the water tested for contaminants?

The pool should be checked for adequate chlorine levels, pH levels and for any contaminants before the public starts to swim, plus at least once after the pool is closed for the day.

2. Where is the first aid kit?
Bodily fluids of any sort must be contained around a pool. It's good to know where the first-aid kit is in case of an emergency.

3. What is the maximum capacity of the pool?
Too many bathers on a hot day will throw off chlorine and pH levels designed to keep you safe from germs. If the pool looks like it’s getting too busy, it might be a good time to leave.

Healthy swimming habits
Pools become contaminated through fecal matter, mucus, vomit, saliva and skin. A swimming pool is safer and more easily maintained if swimmers follow these steps:

• Shower before you swim to reduce the transfer of germs, sweat and chemicals (such as those from cosmetics and hair products) into the water.

• Bathe young children with soap and water before swimming to rid any fecal matter. Small amounts of fecal matter rinse off all swimmers' bottoms as they swim through the water.

• Avoid the pool if anyone in the family has had diarrhea, a chest infection, the flu, a skin rash or a cold. A carrier can still spread germs, and a sick person should never swim.

• Disposable swim trunks are a good idea for babies still in diapers. Regular diapers won't contain a bathroom break.

• Change a diaper in a restroom, not by the pool. And wash hands thoroughly afterwards.

• Take children to the bathroom frequently. Waiting for them to ask might mean it's too late!

With healthy swimming habits and a good pool staff, you can look forward to every municipal pool visit as a playful way to keep the family fit, cooled off and happy.  

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Prevention & Recovery

How to avoid germs at the pool