Before you jump in, keep these 7 tips in mind to avoid coming in contact with coronavirus.
There’s no question that taking a refreshing dip in a swimming pool is a great way to cool off on a sweltering summer day. But with uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, is it safe to do so?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have both stated that there’s no evidence the virus can be transmitted through water, even if it’s swallowed. They also say that the recommended levels of chlorine (or bromine) in public pools, plus proper filtration, should be more than sufficient for killing viruses and bacteria.
The risk, they say, is not in the swimming itself but in the crowds you’ll likely find at a public pool – or in other areas popular for summer swimming, like the beach.
If pools in your area are open and you’re tempted to make a day of it, follow these 7 tips for keeping your family safer:
- Stay outside. Being out in the open where the air freely circulates is safer than being in an enclosed space. If you have a choice between an outdoor pool and an indoor one, stick with outdoor swimming. If your outdoor pool has indoor areas, like locker rooms or concession areas, try to avoid these areas or limit time spent inside.
- Follow pool rules. Depending on the restrictions in your city, county or state, the pool will likely have a set of recommended safety rules – and they should be followed closely. The facility may limit the number of people who can be in the pool at one time and may dictate how long you can be in the water so everyone has a chance to get in. If poolside tables and chairs are available, they’ll likely be spaced out to maintain social distancing, so don’t be tempted to rearrange the furniture (unless you have a large group and you ask first). If face coverings are required, keep them on when you’re not in the pool. But never wear a mask while swimming because it can restrict your breathing.
- Pack the wipes. Be sure to disinfect anything you and your family members are going to touch, including tables and chairs. If the pool allows it, bring your own chairs with you. If you must venture inside a building to use the lockers or restroom, take disinfectant wipes with you and wipe down anything you’re going to touch.
- Wash your hands often. This goes without saying no matter where you are, but especially when you are in public places for an extended period of time. Use soap and water when possible or carry hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
- Stick together. Social distancing is compromised if family members are scattered around the facility. Try to stay together, even when you’re in the pool. This limits how many other people you are in contact with as a group.
- Be alert. Social distancing is tricky in a pool – you can’t control who may surface right next to you. Stay aware of your surroundings as much as possible and try to maintain at least a 6-foot distance from others whether you’re in the pool or not.
- Don’t share. Yes, this goes against everything we’ve been taught but now is not the time to encourage sharing. Don’t let anyone besides your family use your sunscreen, pool toys, goggles, hats or snacks.
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Date Last Reviewed: June 17, 2020
Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor
Medical Review: Perry Pitkow, MD