Swim safely: How to avoid germs in the pool

A swimming pool is the place to be on a hot summer day. But pools can harbor bacteria and other germs that cause recreational water illnesses. The most common is diarrhea from a gastrointestinal illness. You could also get an eye, ear or skin infection.

Chlorine kills germs, but not instantly. In fact, some germs can stay alive for days in chlorinated water. These precautions can help you avoid getting—or spreading—a recreational water illness:

  • Don’t swim in a pool with cloudy water. Also check the sides—tiles shouldn’t be sticky or slippery.
  • Check for odor. There shouldn’t be a strong chemical smell.
  • Avoid swallowing water or even getting it in your mouth.
  • Don’t swim if you have diarrhea.
  • Shower with soap before you swim.
  • Wash your hands after using the toilet or changing a diaper.
  • Take kids to the bathroom often. With babies, check their diapers often.
  • Change diapers away from the poolside.

If you have doubts about pool water, ask the staff how often chlorine and pH levels are checked—twice a day is the minimum. Or buy your own test strips and follow the instructions to check the water yourself.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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