First of all, properly chlorinated swimming pool water does kill all the germs, but not instantly. There are a few germs that can survive in chlorinated water for several hours to several days.
For instance, a germ like Cryptosporidium - the cause of gastro-intestinal infections – is resistant to chlorine disinfection and can survive in even the best maintained pool for several days. This means you can pick up an infection in a pool, hot tub or spa, even though it’s well maintained.
It’s important to maintain proper levels of chlorine to kill germs, but don’t overdo it because too much chlorine is dangerous.
How water gets contaminated
Most swimming pool infections are related to diarrhoea germs that can enter your body when you swallow pool water. Pools can become contaminated by people who swim while they are suffering from diarrhoea and by folks who don’t shower properly before they go swimming. There is also the risk of contamination from small children wearing nappies in the pool.
How to stay healthy
Don’t abandon your local swimming pool and start swimming in local rivers, lakes or the sea because these are notorious hot-spots for sewage spills, animal waste and water run-off! When using a pool, just take these sensible steps to avoid infection and to ensure you don’t infect the water yourself:
- Don't swim when you have diarrhoea
- Don't swallow pool water and avoid getting it into your mouth
- Shower with soap before swimming, so your body is completely clean before entering the water
- Always wash your hands carefully with soap and hot water after using the toilet or changing diapers
- Remember the germs on your body end up in the water
- Take your kids on frequent bathroom breaks and check nappies often
- Change nappies in a bathroom or a nappy-changing area and not at the poolside leaving germs that spread around the pool
- Wash your child thoroughly (especially the rear end) with soap and water before swimming
Remember to follow these good hygiene tips and you’ll be able to enjoy this incredibly healthy hobby/sport without any problems!
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