Spring is behind us, (home) school’s out for summer, and the temperatures are on the rise. That often means it’s time for trunks, water wings and cannonballs.
As stay-at-home restrictions ease up, many summertime traditions are either cancelled or taking on a different look. Seemingly every activity comes with a caveat: am I putting myself and others at risk?
When it comes to swimming, diving into natural bodies of water is considered safe. The same goes for your family or friend’s backyard pool, taking into consideration their exposure to the virus. But what about public pools and family-friendly, mega-sized water parks?
The basics still apply here. Being around a lot of people puts you and them at higher risk, and big pools tend to be full of lots of people. And they tend not to be keeping their distance from each other and wearing masks, both well-known and proven ways to slow the spread of the virus. But here are some answers to questions that are specific to pools.
Can I catch COVID-19 from pool water?
The short answer: yes, it’s possible. But the water itself is lower risk.
Why is pool water extremely low risk? Chemicals used in pool water, such as chlorine, keep it clean and eliminate dirt, particles and bacteria, including viruses.
“Chemicals keep pools clean and definitely make the spread much more difficult, but COVID-19 isn’t easily transmitted through water anyways, so swimming in chemically-treated public pools is safe,” said Dr. Hammad Haider-Shah, chief medical officer at Aurora West Allis Medical Center.
The real risks are outside the pool
While it’s cool in the pool, it’s people outside the water that pose the biggest risk to spreading COVID-19. On a hot summer day, crowds at pools are almost unavoidable. From packed poolside seating areas to long lines for water slides and busy changing facilities, social distancing is virtually impossible. And no one will be wearing masks.
However, many municipalities and private clubs are taking extra steps to keep things safe. Limited hours and capacity, mandatory shutdowns during the day to clean and swimming by appointment only can keep crowds down and limit the virus’ spread. If you’re going to the pool, check ahead of time to make sure these precautions are in place
How to enjoy the water park safely
In addition to the safeguards facilities are taking, all the other basics still apply to keep yourself and other swimmers safe.
“If you’re going to a public or private pool, continue to follow COVID-19 safety guidelines. Wear a ask when you’re not in the water, wash your hands and maintain social distancing by staying six feet away from swimmers and other guests,” said Dr. Haider-Shah.
For more information, check out our COVID-19 Resource Center.