FROM PEE IN THE POOL TO DEADLY MICROBES FLOATING ABOUT, 5 REASONS TO THINK TWICE BEFORE DIVING INTO THAT PUBLIC POOL
PUBLIC POOL, OR PUBLIC TOILET?
If you're taking a refreshing dip in a pool with four other people, guess what? Odds are that one of you is um....how shall I put this? Peeing in the pool!
This is not just some gross-out myth. This happens to be a cold,hard, depressing fact.
In a survey, nearly 1,000 adults were asked whether they pee in pools. One in five bravely admitted that they do. (And those are the ones who admitted it)! We may act potty-trained on land, but there's something about a body of water that opens our natural floodgates, and puts us all at risk.
No me, of course. I am one of the four people who does NOT do this! I suppose the reason so many people find it easy to "go" in the pool, is that they are sure the chlorine will "clean it right up!"
Well, technically, that's mostly true - if pool operators maintain proper chlorine and pH levels. Then yes, most waterborne germs will be killed on contact. However, 54 percent of public pools tested failed to provide the proper chlorine levels, and 47 got low marks for pH balance.
You can blame poor pool maintenance, but people who use the pool as a toilet certainly don't help! Anything foreign that gets in the pool consumes disinfectant and makes the pool less capable of catching the next germ. So while chlorine is busy cleaning up someone's mess, it's weakened by the time more serious bacteria decides to dive in.
What about the germs we carry on our body even before we get wet? While only one in five of us cop to peeing in the pool, seven in 10 say they don't shower before they swim. I recall as a kid, getting so annoyed about having to take a shower at the "Y" before I could go swimming.
"Why do I have to take a shower when I'm just gonna get wet anyway?" I remember whining.
But now I understand the logic behind this rule. As much as a cold pre-swim shower ruins that first dip feeling, there is a good case to be made for why it's crucial. The additional bacteria we carry on skin,gets mixed in the pool. If bacteria is allowed to grow in pools and someone accidentally swallows a mouthful of water (like we all do) guess what? Suddenly, they're subject to serious bacteria like E.coli or salmonella.
One study found the parasite Cryptosporidium survives in even well-chlorinated water parks for up to a week - posing a potentially fatal threat, especially to young people or those with lowered immune systems. The CDC cites there has been a rapid rise in gastro-intestinal illnesses from dirty swimming pools all across the country in the past two decades.
So...what can you do? Be vigilant (it's your health, aft all!) and be aware of these signs the next time to venture over to the public pool.
If any of these signs are present,think twice before you dive on in!
1. The water should look clear. You should be able to see the bottom of the pool, and the water should look blue - not green.
2. Make sure there isn't a lot of debris floating around on the surface. Bits of leaves, bugs, and other polutants can carry dangerous bacteria and viruses. A lot of debris usually means a pool has not been cleaned recently.
3. A strong odor. Do you know what that "pool smell" really is? It's chlorine mixed with contaminants! If the odor is really strong, that's a problem. A pool should smell clean, not all chemically. Also, your eyes shouldn't bother you after you dive in. When you're eyes are stinging - that's also a sign of contaminants in the pool (namely, pee mixed with chlorine).
4. The tiles around the pool should never feel slimy. Excess slime is a sign of bad nasties collecting.
5. Crowdedness (think: water parks!). A pool is just a small body of water, after all. The more people crowded into the water, the more likely bacteria is spreading - and people are using the pool as a public toilet!
Just use common sense. One time, my mother and I were on vacation. We stayed at a somewhat dumpy hotel the night before we were to fly home. The hotel had a pool, so I said, why not? When I dove into the pool, I remember thinking, HOLY COW, THIS WATER IS HOT! I mean, WEIRDLY hot! I should have gotten out, because weirdly hot is not normal. Two days later, I came home with some nasty germ. I blamed food poisoning...but who knows? It might have been something in that pool!
What you can do to help keep the pool clean:
1. wash hands after changing diapers - and don't change diapers by the pool.
2. Never go into a pool (or allow your kids in a pool) when you are sick or have an infection.
3. Shower before entering the pool.
4. Purchase a pack of PH sticks from Walmart, for quick pool testing.
5. Never do anything gross (I really shouldn't have to tell you this, right?) like go to the bathroom or blow your nose in the water.
Also - don't forget to wear goggles into the pool. Don't worry that they're not stylish - swim goggles are available in cool colors to match your bathing-suit.
You may opt to cool off without getting your head wet. After all, you can still enjoy the pool without actually putting your face in the water. If you do put your face in the water - TRY NOT TO SWALLOW ANY WATER!
Of course you can always just sit around the pool looking glamorous and "above it all," while flipping through your glossy magazine and sipping your nice cool tropical drink. Maybe that's your best bet!