7 Hygiene Habits That All Pool Users Should Adopt Immediately

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Introduction

Swimming is widely considered to be one of the most popular activities among people of all ages. Many children and adults would have had fond memories of the times spent splashing around in the pool with family and friends, on a hot lazy afternoon. Swimming is also a superb form of exercise, regardless of age or physical fitness level. This is because recreational swimming has a very low impact on the swimmer’s joints. In order to reap the long-term health benefits of swimming, swimmers need to understand the importance of maintaining high standards of swimming hygiene. Poor swimming hygiene puts individuals at risk of contracting Recreational Water Illness (RWIs). In this article, we will look at what RWIs are, how you can protect your loved ones by maintaining good swimming hygiene and things that you can look out for when deciding if a pool is clean and safe for swimming.

What are Recreational Water Illnesses (RWIs)

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the term “Recreational Water Illnesses” is used to classify various illnesses that are commonly transmitted in recreational water locations. Swimming pools, public baths, spas, rivers, lakes, and the sea are often highlighted as places where an individual can contract RWIs.

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The most common form of RWI is diarrhea. However, RWIs can also manifest themselves in forms such as infections on the skin, eyes, ears, gastrointestinal and respiratory system, as well as neurological issues. It can also result in additional complications of existing wounds and injuries.

An individual can contract RWI when waterborne bacteria, germs, or parasites gets introduced to the body. This can happen when a person swallows infected pool water, or when contaminated water comes into contact with the open wounds on their body. These infectious bacteria can also enter the body through the eyes, ears, and nose.

7 Hygiene Habits That All Pool Users Should Adopt Immediately 3

Habits of good swimming hygiene

While there are numerous ways in which the water can be infected by RWI bacteria, the most common and easiest way of infection is through other swimmers in the pool. This can occur when one’s perspiration gets mixed with the water in the swimming pool. It can also happen when an individual urinates or introduces even the smallest amount of fecal matter to the water.

In addition, skin care products such as sunblock, tanning lotions, ointments, and other chemical products that a person wears — as well as the presence of impurities, litter, and sunlight — can negatively alter the chlorine and PH levels of the water, turning it into a breeding ground for infectious germs that induce various forms of RWIs.

Lastly, chlorine should not be seen as a fool-proof solution against waterborne bacteria. This is because of diarrhea-inducing parasites such as Cryptosporidium and Giardia which are highly impervious to the effects of chlorine and can live in contaminated water for many days. Hence, it is important to also have good swimming hygiene to protect you and your loved ones from these infectious RWI bacteria — here are some easy ways that you can do so:

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Make sure that you are clean before entering the pool.

Before going into the pool, always make an effort to at least rinse yourself with soap and water. This can be also applied to your children too. Make sure that they are clean before entering the pool. By doing so, you are washing away the dirt that may have accumulated on the surface of our skins. Remember that dirt and impurities contribute to making the swimming pool a breeding ground for RWI pathogens!

Avoid entering the pool if you are suffering or have recently suffered from diarrhea.

Bacteria that cause diarrhea are waterborne, so getting into the water when you are suffering or have recently suffered from diarrhea would increase the risk of transferring these pathogens into the pool water and infecting other pool users. Hence, given the nature of the illness, it is definitely a safer option to avoid the pool altogether.

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Avoid treating the pool as a restroom.

Seemingly harmless acts like urinating in the pool can contribute to the pool becoming a breeding ground for RWI bacteria. Furthermore, young children may be unaware of their restroom needs. As such, we recommend that you take your children out of the water for regular restroom breaks.

Avoid swimming when sick or when you have open wounds.

This reduces the chance of you spreading RWI bacteria to others, as well as your chances of getting infected.

Do not swallow pool water and try to keep it out of your mouth entirely.

Keeping pool water out of your mouth prevents the pathogens from entering your system — better safe than sorry!

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Never allow a baby to be in the water with a dirty diaper.

Fecal matter breeds RWI bacteria. Since babies are incapable of clearly expressing themselves, parents need to be aware of their baby’s diaper situation! Remember to check before entering. On that note, try to avoid changing diapers near the pool, use the designated changing stations instead. This reduces the risk of RWI germs transmission into the pool water.

Shower after swimming.

As an added precaution, showering after swimming washes off any possible remnants of bacteria on your skin — keeping you and your family germ-free!

7 Hygiene Habits That All Pool Users Should Adopt Immediately 10

Red flags to keep an eye out for

Your efforts to keep your loved ones safe by maintaining good pool hygiene may come to naught if others behaved irresponsibly. Here are some telltale signs of swimming pools that you should avoid:

  • A strong smell of chlorine
    Most people do not know this, but a pool that has a strong smell of chlorine actually indicates that the pool’s chlorine level is low. This is because the smell originates from chloramines, which is a product formed when chlorine reacts with bacteria. Hence, the presence of chlorine odor may suggest that the pool water is not sufficiently clean.
  • Skin and eye irritation
    Dry itchy skin and eye irritation can indicate that chlorine or pH levels of the pool water may not be at a healthy amount.
  • Cloudy or dirty water
    The pool water should be clear—avoid swimming in visibly dirty pools.
  • Slimy pool surfaces
    Slimy pool surfaces, such as the walls and floors, indicate that algae and micro-organisms may be present.
  • Spoilt pool equipment
    The pool requires a working filtering system to maintain pool cleanliness. Some indicators of poor pool maintenance equipment include the pool water not continuously lapping against the pool’s filter grills and the inability to hear the pumping sounds of the cleaning equipment working.

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Getting medical treatment

Often, the majority of RWIs do not result in severe complications. However, pregnant women, young children, the elderly, and individuals who suffer from severely weakened immune systems are at a higher risk or developing potentially fatal complications due to an infection by RWIs. Symptoms that need to be addressed immediately include high fever, extreme body pains, and breathing difficulties. Should these symptoms persist, it is important for individuals to seek medical help.

Conclusion

All in all, it is definitely possible for the pool to remain as a clean and safe place for our loved ones to swim and have fun. We can all play our part by ensuring and upholding high standards of individual swimming hygiene. Let’s keep our swimming pools free from RWIs germs!

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