Stagnant water, or water that stays in one area, can get dirty and dangerous very quickly. Even though we use swimming pool pumps to keep the water in our pools moving, swimming pool water is technically stagnant. For this reason, swimming pool water can become dangerous to swimmers if left untreated.
Luckily, we have perfected the science of treating a swimming pool for safe swimming. We use chlorine or bromine to disinfect swimming pool water and to make sure that it is safe. As long as these disinfectants are used correctly and kept at the right levels, swimming pool water should be perfectly safe to swim in.
The key to keeping a swimming pool safe is to make sure that the right chemicals are used at the right time and in the right amount. Unfortunately, it is very possible to get sick from a swimming pool that is not cleaned or disinfected correctly.
The danger of stagnant water
Most animals and insects need water to live. In the heat of the summer, a swimming pool becomes very attractive to animals and pests that can bring along viruses and bacteria. We use pool pumps to keep water moving and to keep the water moving, but that is only helpful when we use the right chemicals. An untreated swimming pool is technically stagnant water.
Many pests are deterred or instantly killed by chlorine and bromine in pool water. But, if levels are too low, viruses and bacteria can begin to multiply at a frightening rate. A neglected pool becomes more and more attractive to algae, bacteria, viruses and other wildlife the longer it is neglected.
Keep your swimming pool safe at all times! Test, treat, clean and circulate regularly.
Common swimming pool related illnesses
The dangerous illnesses that we can encounter in a swimming pool are regularly tracked by officials all over the world. The most common causes of swimming pool related illnesses in North America are Cryptosporidium, Legionella, Pseudomonas, Norovirus, Shigella and E.Coli.
According to the CDC, swimmers who come into contact with these organisms can have different symptoms. This includes acute gastrointestinal illness (such as diarrhea or vomiting), skin rashes and respiratory ailments (such as coughing or congestion).
Swimming pools that are not treated correctly are regularly tied to illness outbreaks each summer. Most swimming pool related illnesses are contracted at public swimming pools.
Each of these potential illnesses is frightening. But, the good news is that a swimming pool properly treated with chlorine or bromine will not put swimmers at risk of contracting an illness.
We recommend that you take a quick peak at the records of any public swimming pool where you plan to take a dip to avoid any encounters with serious illness.
Symptoms of a swimming pool related illness
If you’ve recently been swimming and have found you have diarrhea, a rash, a cough, or other ear, eye or skin irritation, it is possible that you may have come into contact with a swimming-related bacteria or virus.
If you feel a little ill after swimming, there is no need to panic. But, we recommend that you always err on the side of caution. If you’ve faced any of these symptoms after swimming, contact your doctor for advice (particularly if you also have a fever).
Contacting your doctor can help you to get all of the medical advice you need. If you think you may have gotten sick from a public or private swimming pool, you may want to consider contacting your local public health authority. With adequate reporting, health officials can monitor for any potential outbreaks, and make sure that any poorly treated public swimming pools are shut down until they can be sanitized and operated correctly.
How to avoid getting sick from a swimming pool
In your own home swimming pool, it is very easy to control the chemical levels in your water. But, the risk is higher in public swimming pools where demand on chlorine is also higher.
The CDC reports that up to 10% of public swimming pools are not adequately chlorinated to keep swimmers safe from illness. This means that the risk of contracting a pool-related illness is much higher in a public pool.
To keep safe in the water, avoid getting pool water in your mouth or nose wherever possible. This may seem difficult, but the less contact your face has with water, the better. When you’re done swimming, make sure to shower thoroughly, making sure to clean your face, eyes, and ears in particular. Once you’re out of the shower, make sure you dry completely (including your ears). Wash the towel you used before using it again.
Coping with Swimmer’s Ear
One of the most common ailments for those who spend time in the pool is “Swimmer’s Ear”. Swimmer’s ear is an infection of the ear canal. Many people who spend a lot of time swimming are prone to this condition.
After a swim, the damp inner-ear is a perfect breeding ground for bacteria to thrive in. Swimmers who spend a lot of time wet may be prone to bacterial infection in the ear. If you’re suffering from swimmer’s ear, your doctor can prescribe ear drops and antibiotics to help heal your ears. Make sure to thoroughly dry your ears after every shower and swim to prevent the problem before it occurs.
Is the Coronavirus Transmitted in Swimming Pool Water?
One of the biggest health concerns for all of us in 2020 is COVID-19. It is natural to worry about the dangers of swimming pool water and COVID-19. According to the CDC, COVID-19 cannot survive long or cause infection in swimming pool or hot tub water.
The areas around public swimming pools can be a COVID-19 hazard. Close proximity and shared surfaces all increase the likelihood of transmission. At the public swimming pool, hand washing, social distancing, and caution outside of the pool are the biggest concerns.
Learn more about swimming pool safety and COVID-19 here.
Keeping safe in the pool
Most of us are aware of the dangers of drowning, diving or running on the deck. But, water chemistry is also an important factor when it comes to keeping safe in the water.
Swimming pool water that is not properly treated can be a hazard, particularly in a public pool that faces a lot of use. But when it comes time for you to swim at home, at a friends house, or a public pool, make sure to take the time to evaluate whether the water is safe. If you have any concerns, a thorough shower and completely drying off after a swim can help you to avoid many water-related illnesses.