If you’ve made it through peak swimming season without any pool-related illnesses, then the battle is half won. However, we still have a couple of warm months left to catch swimming pool illnesses so let’s err on the side of caution and keep ourselves as safe as we reasonably can.
While the risk of disease is significantly higher in natural bodies of water such as lakes and rivers, the issues don’t simply evaporate when using swimming pools (even hotel pools), waterparks or Jacuzzis.
What are the most common water-borne illnesses that we could suffer from when swimming? These range from diarrhoea to skin irritation, respiratory ailments and ear infections. When you consider that lakes and rivers are untreated and can contain wastewater or sewage runoff from both local informal settlements and upstream industrial sources, you can easily understand the need for caution.
However, swimming pools and Jacuzzis can foster bacteria, chemicals or pathogens too. So how do we stay safe?
Avoid Pool Illnesses
While we trust that the chlorine is doing its job, it’s not an instant fix, nor does it kill everything that could potentially harm us. So, let’s avoid swallowing the water, shall we? Even taking in mouthfuls of water to spit at their teenage sister places little boys in danger.
We may come out of the pool or Jacuzzi all wrinkly and waterlogged, but it doesn’t mean we’re clean. The chemicals and other impurities remain on our skin and can dry out the skin or increase the chance of infection. It’s always a good idea to rinse off or shower before and after swimming.
Babies and children love the water, and as parents we understand how hard it can be to get them out of the pool. You can see where we’re going with this, can’t you? Kids tend to pee in the pool, and babies – even with those specialised swimming diapers – can have an accident which they leave as a legacy, exposing us all. Regular bathroom breaks are a must!
If you have an open wound, it’s better to stay out of the water. Our bodies have pretty good systems to keep pathogens out, including our tough skin, mucous membranes, etc. An open wound, however, is vulnerable to infection and should be either covered with a water-proof plaster or kept out of the water altogether.
Yes, most of this is common sense, but it’s good to remind ourselves every so often and keep ourselves and our family free from pool illnesses.