Temperatures are slowly on the rise and swim season is only a short dive away. In the United States, millions of Americans will take to the water this year for a wide variety of fun. And that’s awesome, as swimming and other water-related activities are excellent ways to get the physical activity and health benefits needed for a healthy life.
However, it’s important to be aware of ways to prevent illness. Pools are great for exercise, having fun, or just relaxing, but pools can also spread diarrhea and other illnesses. Germs don’t jump into the water like we do. They surf in on people’s bodies.
Well-maintained pools use chlorine. And while these chemicals kill most germs within minutes, some live on for days. Chemicals also break down pee, poop, sweat, dirt and other gunk from swimmer’s bodies, but this uses up the chemicals, leaving less available to kill germs.
Smell that “chlorine?”
It’s actually chemicals that form when chlorine mixes with the gunk. These chemicals, not chlorine, make your eyes red and sting, your nose run, and make you cough.
How do we carry germs into the pool? Through microbes. Microbes are tiny living organisms. Some microbes are germs that can make you sick.
What are you bringing into the pool besides a splash?
Here are the microbes and gunk the average swimmer can bring into the pool:
- Hair (10 million microbes)
- Spit (8 million microbes in a single drop)
- Hands (5 million microbes)
- Poop (140 billion microbes)
- Nose, mouth, skin (billions of microbes)
- Sweat (1 or 2 soda cans of microbes)
- Pee (1 cup of microbes)
Now, think about how much of that same water you swallow in 45 minutes of swimming:
- Adults: 1 tablespoon
- Kids: 2 ½ tablespoons
That’s more than enough to make you sick. Keep germs out of the water and water out of your mouth.
You can follow these 4 steps for healthier swimming:
- Stay out of the water if you have diarrhea
- Shower before you get into the water
- Don’t pee or poop in the water
- Don’t swallow the water
Click HERE to see an illustration of how pools can spread diarrhea and other illnesses.