10 Ways to Avoid Health Hazards at the Pool this Summer

Nothing beats the summer heat more than spending long days splashing around in the pool. But did you know that the average swimming pool can be more dangerous than you think?

Pool water that is poorly maintained or chemically imbalanced is a breeding ground for microorganisms that can cause some severe health issues, from rashes, infections, and even deadly water-borne diseases. There is plenty lurking in the pool water!  Here are some precautions to keep you safe & healthy during the swim season.

1. Take a Shower Before You Take a Dip

Sunscreen, sweat, oil, makeup, bug repellant and dirt.  If it’s on your skin, it’s going to end up in the pool. According to a survey by the Water Quality and Health Council, more than 44% of swimmers skip the shower before jumping into the pool.

Help keep your pool water clean by requesting swimmers shower before jumping in.  Even a quick rinse off is better than nothing. Additionally, consider Unicel filters cartridges replacement, Hayward pool filter cartridge replacement or Pentair pool filter cartridge replacement to remove oil and other dirt from your pool water after the swimming is done.

2. Test the Water

The scorching heat may tempt you to make a beeline for the water and jump right in. But water-quality experts say that you should know what you’re getting into—both figuratively and literally. An improper chemical balance, especially chlorine, is the primary reason for pool water to be of sub-par quality.

Reasons for insufficient chlorine levels may be lack of maintenance, malfunctioning pool equipment, worn out or dirty pool filter cartridges and much more.

What happens when the chlorine levels or pH of your water becomes too low?  Pool water becomes a breeding ground for bacteria, viruses, and germs. On the other hand, if there is too much chlorine in the water, it can cause nausea, throat irritation, burn your eyes, and other unpleasant problems for swimmers.

OK, so how do you figure out if your pool water has the right amount of chlorine?  It’s pretty easy actually!  Just pick up some pH test strips. They are readily available at home improvement stores or online and are inexpensive, easy to use and above all, accurate.

Test strips measure the pH level and free chlorine levels in the water. They will tell you if you have the correct levels of chemicals in the water and if they are working properly.

3. Don’t Pee in the Pool

While this one may sound obvious, the sad truth is that it isn’t followed often.  According to a survey by the Water Quality and Health Council, over 55% of survey respondents admitted that they were guilty of peeing in the pool, at least once.

Apart from being gross, urine in pool water causes chlorine to be less effective. Ammonia in urine and chlorine in the water combine to form the chemical chloramine. Chloramine is far less effective at killing microorganisms, can cause serious health issues, and can even damage your pool equipment!

4. Don’t Swallow the Water

This one is also pretty obvious; but it’s important. Swallowing pool water can increase your chances of becoming ill as you are literally ingesting microorganisms.

5. Take Regular Breaks

A long day at the pool may feel relaxing; it actually does take a toll on your body. Dehydration, sunburn, heatstroke, and low blood sugar can and do happen and more often that you think! Take breaks for water, sunscreen, and food often.

6. Watch the Drains

Uncovered drains or broken covers on drains are a major drowning hazard. The drain is where the pool filters pulls water from and so there is constant suction. If a swimmer’s hair, accessories or limbs get caught in the drain, they could become a drowning victim. If you see broken or missing drain covers, replace them immediately. There are also “kill switches” available that can be installed on your filtration system for this very reason.

7. Don’t Swim With an Open Wound

There are several misconceptions out there that claim that swimming in saltwater or chlorinated water with an open wound can disinfect or clean it. In fact, the exact opposite is true. Swimming with an open wound, cut, or other lesion on your skin is like providing germs a red carpet welcome into your body.

8. Use the Correct Accessories When You Swim

Protect yourself with the right accessories. A pair of goggles will shield your eyes from excessive chlorine and microorganisms in the water.  Ear drops can help avoid ear infections that are caused when contaminated water gets trapped in the ear. Wear clogs or flip-flops when walking around the pool deck, locker room and shower to prevent athlete’s foot.

9. Change Into Dry Clothing As Soon as Possible

Swimming in a poorly maintained pool or lounging in a poorly maintained spa can cause an itchy skin infection called Hot Tub Rash. However you can greatly reduce your chances of contracting it by changing into fresh dry clothes as soon as you can after getting out of the water.

Leaving on a wet bathing suit exposes your skin to contaminated water and this is why rashes are worse in areas covered by the bathing suit that other parts of the body.

10. Rely on Your Senses

Finally, you can pretty quickly find out if pool water is safe and clean by using your four senses (we’re leaving out taste for obvious reasons).

Use your eyes to see if the water is clear. Touch the sides of the pool, especially pool tiles to find out if they are clean or slimy (which means they are covered in algae). Listen to the pool equipment, if there are any unusual noises it could indicate a malfunction.

Most importantly, use your nose. A strong, sharp odor (sometimes mistaken for too much chlorine) is actually an indicator that there are chloramines in the water and is a good indicator that the pool water needs to be treated.