Public swimming pools are fun places where kids and adults can play, exercise, and socialize during the summer. Indoor pools, have an added advantage since you can swim all year round.
Whether the pool is of the outdoor or indoor variety, parents have concerns about the health and safety of public pools. Here are some health concerns and safety tips to keep in mind as you pack up to go to the pool.
Health Concerns at Public Pools
There have been concerns about the chlorine in pools aggravating asthma, especially in children. If you think this is a possible concern for your children, consider outdoor pools. This helps by making sure the chlorine vapors are not trapped inside with your kids. If your child does have asthma or other breathing problems, make sure you have asthma or other breathing medication handy.
Ear Infection Concerns
“Swimmer’s Ear” may have something to do with bacteria in the water. Skin and eye infections can also be caused by microbes in pool water called “recreational water bacteria.”
Transmitted by breathing water vapor contaminated with the bacteria, Legionnaires’ disease is a lung disease that has been linked to swimming pools.
Although these are some of the common health concerns associated with public or community pools, there are other things that may affect your child’s health as well. The safety tips below will give you some ideas of what to look for and how to go about making sure your child is safe at the public pool.
Public Pool Safety Tips
Recognize an Unhealthy Pool
Avoiding an unhealthy pool is an important part of staying safe. And to avoid them, you need to recognize them. But how do you know for sure? While it can be hard to tell, here are some tips.
- If the water looks clear and clean and the pool itself is clear blue (not green or brown), then that’s a good sign.
- Look to see if water is lapping over the filters. These are the drainage grates on the top of the pool’s walls. And listen to make sure the pool’s filters and pumps are running. If you’re in doubt, ask to see them.
- Does it smell clean? A slight chlorine smell is acceptable, but heavy chlorine or other chemical smells are a bad sign. Any bad odors are an indication that the pool may not be clean.
- The area around the pool should not be overly slimy or slippery. Not only is this unsafe with regard to slips and falls, it also indicates a film of algae, fungus, bacteria, or some other microbe. The same goes for the pool tiles on the inside and the sides of the pool.
Ask the Management for a Tour
Check out the pool’s facilities. With a well-run pool, the staff will not mind taking you around and showing you how the pool is maintained.
Shower before You Jump In
Chemicals from sunscreen, deodorant, body lotion, hair products, urine, and so forth can mix with pool disinfectants to create carcinogenic compounds, sources say.
Talk to your kids about pool hygiene – no peeing or spitting in the pool, for instance. Make sure they know not to swallow pool water. And if your kids are sick, don’t let them swim and contaminate the pool (especially if they have a digestive illness).
Armed with these tips and other research, your family should be able to enjoy a swim-filled summer safely. If you see anything that doesn’t seem right, ask the pool manager about it. After the manager discusses the issue with you, if you still have a nagging feeling that something isn’t right, trust your instinct and visit another pool.