Employee & Community Health

Make a healthy splash at pools, water parks!

2/22/2018 by Jane Myers, APRN, CNP

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A weekend escape to a hotel pool and hot tub or a family getaway to a water park is great winter fun. But be aware that splashing, swimming and soaking at these venues can pose a health risk, too, if you swallow contaminated water. 

But isn't the water in pools, water parks, splash pads, interactive fountains and other water play features treated with chemicals to make it safe? It is, but water treatments like chlorine don't kill germs instantly. Plus, water in interactive fountains typically is recycled and might contain germs. 

And where do those germs come from? Mostly from us, particularly our urine and stool, but also from dirt that may wash off us. Urine in water weakens the germ-killing power of chlorine. Stool can wash out of swim diapers and off of our bodies. 

While pool and water play area operators work hard to keep the water as safe as possible, the key is to keep urine and stool out of the water. 

DO:

  • Stay out of the water if you have diarrhea. 
  • Take bathroom breaks every 60 minutes. 
  • Check swim diapers/swim pants every 30-60 minutes, and change away from the water. Remember that swim diapers/swim pants are NOT leak proof. 
  • Shower or bathe with soap before you enter the water play area. 

DON'T:

  • Drink the water. 
  • Sit on the water jets. 

If you plan to soak in a hot tub, it's good to follow these additional guidelines: 

  • Don't let children less than five years old use hot tubs. 
  • Don't drink alcohol before entering the hot tub or during hot tub use. 
  • If pregnant, consult a physician before hot tub use, particularly in the first trimester. 

For more information, check out the Centers for Disease Control's (CDC) Health Swimming webpages. By taking a few precautions, your winter getaway to a pool or water park can be buckets of fun — and healthy!

Jane F. Myers, APRN, CNP, is a certified nurse practitioner in Employee and Community Health's (ECH) Department of Family Medicine and works at the Northwest Clinic. She has a special interest in procedures, geriatrics and retail clinics.