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FAQ - Health

Can I get head lice from a swimming pool?

Head lice are unlikely to be spread through the use of swimming pools. Head lice survive by holding onto hair, and, although pool chlorine levels do not kill lice, the lice are not likely to let go when a person's head goes under water.

Head lice can be spread by sharing towels or other items that have been in contact with an infected person's hair. To protect yourself from head lice at the pool, do not share towels, hair brushes, or other items that come into contact with someone else’s hair. If you already have lice, do not swim or wash your hair within 1–2 days of treating it with anti-lice shampoo — these actions will make the treatment less effective.


Can I get sick from using a swimming pool?

Swimming is a fun and healthy activity. However, contaminated water can still spread germs that cause recreational water illnesses (RWIs). RWIs cause a wide variety of symptoms, including skin, ear, respiratory and eye infections. The most commonly reported RWI is diarrhea.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that the number of RWI outbreaks has increased over the past decade. The CDC also warns that children, pregnant women and people with compromised immune systems are particularly at risk of more severe illness if infected.

The CDC provides state specific healthy swimming resources.


Do dead animals in pools pose a health risk to swimmers?

Most dead animals in pools do not pose a health risk to swimmers. Many germs carried by animals infect only those animals, though a few of the germs they carry can infect people.

Most germs carried by animals are killed by chlorine within minutes in a well-maintained pool.


Does chlorine prevent all recreational water illnesses?

Chlorine in swimming pools kills the germs that may make people sick, but it takes time. Chlorine in properly disinfected pools kills most germs that cause RWIs within minutes. However, it takes longer to kill some germs such as Cryptosporidium that can survive for days in even a properly disinfected pool.

Also, many things can reduce chlorine levels in pool water. Some examples are sunlight, dirt, debris, and material from swimmer’s bodies. Healthy swimming behaviors and good hygiene are needed to protect you and your family from RWIs and will help stop germs from getting in the pool.


How can I protect myself and other swimmers from germs in the pool water?

To protect yourself, your children and other swimmers from RWIs, follow these six recommendations from the CDC:

  • Don’t swim when you have diarrhea. This is especially important for kids in diapers.

  • Don’t swallow the pool water. In fact, try to avoid getting it in your mouth at all.

  • Take a shower before swimming and wash your hands after using the toilets or changing diapers.

  • Take your kids on bathroom breaks or check diapers often

  • Change diapers in a bathroom and not at poolside. Germs can spread to surfaces and objects in and around the pool.

  • Wash your child thoroughly (especially the rear end) with soap and water before swimming.


How can I recognize a healthy pool?

While you can't see germs that cause RWIs, you can use your senses to help recognize the difference between a healthy pool and a potentially risky one. Look for water that's clean, clear, and blue – free from algae and unclouded. From the perimeter of the pool, you should be able to clearly see the drain or painted stripes on the pool floor. Also, look for drainage grills at the top of pool walls. Water should be constantly lapping over the grills to be filtered.

Check for tiles that feel smooth and clean. Sticky or slippery tiles are caused by algae and other unwanted organisms. Chlorine helps keep pools healthy, and will not cause a strong chemical odor in a well-maintained pool. Strong chemical odors, as well as skin, eye or respiratory irritation, are caused by the high levels of chloramines, formed when chlorine combines with contaminants brought into pools by swimmers.


How do I prevent swimmer's ear?

There are additional steps you can take to protect yourself and your children from swimmer's ear. This is a focus of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention this year and there is great information on the CDC website.


How do pool operators keep a swimming pool healthy?

Chlorine and pH are the first defense against germs that can make swimmers sick. Swimming pool operators should vigilantly monitor chlorine levels and pH, and make adjustments accordingly. The chlorine level in a pool should ideally be maintained between 2 and 4 parts per million (ppm), and should never fall below 1 ppm. The pH should be maintained between 7.2 and 7.8. Keeping the pH in the proper range will help maintain chlorine’s germ-killing power while minimizing skin and eye irritation.

Pool operators should also keep pool cleaning equipment running properly. Filters help remove debris, while pumps circulate clean, chlorinated water to all parts of the pool. In addition, periodic replacement of pool water helps reduce contaminants that are not removed in the treatment process.


What are some ways that I can remodel my pool area to promote my health and fitness?

One of the best pool area remodeling projects is the addition of a hot tub. Hydrotherapy, or warm water therapy in hot tub, consists of three main healing ingredients; heat, buoyancy, and massage. Together, they create an experience that is both relaxing and healthy. Hot tub hydrotherapy on a regular basis provides physical health benefits that go much deeper than just relaxation and pleasure.

Water is so pure and simple, yet it can do the most amazing things. Whether you are experiencing joint or muscle pain, having trouble sleeping, or are just plain stressed out, spending time in hot tub can provide therapeutic benefits for just about everyone.

Another way to promote your health and fitness by remodeling a pool area is to add resistance jets to a lap pool. This provides an “endless” current that a swimmer can swim against. Swimming is an activity that can be done at any age and provides an excellent workout of all muscle groups.


What causes chlorine odor, red eyes and itchy skin?

These unpleasant conditions indicate that the pool water has not been properly treated. A common cause is high levels of chloramines, formed when chlorine combines with body oils, perspiration, urine and other contaminants brought into pools by swimmers.

Contrary to what most people think, a strong chemical smell is not an indication of too much chlorine in the pool. In fact, the pool may actually need additional chlorine treatment to get rid of chloramines and sanitize the water.

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