Swimming is one of the healthiest forms of exercise there is. It’s a full body workout… and it’s fun too! Of course, it’s important to remember that often you’re not swimming alone. By this we mean that other people may be in the pool, but also that people who swam before you may be leaving not-so-sanitary elements behind even after they leave the pool area. That goes double for public or community swimming pools. Keeping this in mind, let’s discuss some healthy swimming hygiene tips. These will help to keep the water clean for you and everyone else!
What’s the Danger?
Believe it or not, it’s quite easy to become sick by swimming in dirty water. In fact there are plenty of recreational water illnesses (RWIs) that can be spread via unhealthy swimming conditions. We recently discussed one of those illnesses, Crypto, a water-born parasite that’s becoming more common across the nation. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there’s been an increase in the number of RWI outbreaks over the past two decades. Additionally, harmful germs in the water can cause gastroenteritis, as well as ear, eye, skin and chest infections. While chemicals like chlorine can help to clean the water, they are not completely effective in killing all of the germs that can make you sick.
Guide to Healthy Swimming Hygiene
Bathe Before Taking a Dip!
First and foremost, every single person should wash with soap and water before entering the pool. While this may seem like common sense, a recent study showed that a shocking amount of people simply use the pool in lieu of a shower. On a hot day, it’s easy to consider a quick dive in the water to wash away all the dirt. Unfortunately, this can cause quite a number of germs and bacteria to enter the water.
Don’t Drink the Water
Drinking pool water can be hazardous to your health. If you’re in a public pool, you can never know for sure what may be lurking under the surface. When it comes to healthy swimming hygiene, try to prevent water from getting into your body. You’ll be much safer in the long run.
Far too many RWIs are a result of some form of bathroom trouble. No one should enter the pool if they are experiencing, or recently got over, diarrhea. It may seem gross, but it’s a crucial safety tip. Additionally, make sure kids take regular bathroom breaks. For little ones, be sure to change your infant’s swim diapers often. As a parent, you’ll want to do everything in your power to keep the water as clean as possible for the other swimmers.
Check Yourself for Open Wounds
Similar to the byproducts of human waste, you’ll also want to make sure you’re not getting any blood in the water. Before stepping into the water, check yourself for open wounds or sores. As expected, these can transfer infections to your fellow swimmers. The best healthy swimming hygiene tip is to simply stay out of the water until you are healed. It’s the most considerate move.
Look Before You Leap
Beyond personal hygiene, it’s crucial to check the water before you start diving. Above all, if the water looks cloudy or unclean, then it most likely isn’t safe for swimming. If possible, ask the lifeguard on duty to check the chlorine and pH levels of the water. When these are too low, the water can be a conduit for all manner of germs.
On the other hand, you don’t want too much chlorine either. If you can actually smell the chemical emanating from the water, the chlorine level is probably too high. This can irritate your eyes and make your skin itch. That’s not very pleasant either!
In the end, healthy swimming hygiene is pretty easy. Most of it is common sense. Bathe before swimming and do your best not to get any bodily fluids in the pool. If everyone does their part, then taking a dip will be a lot safer for everyone. Spread the word!