All the fun, without the germs

Summer is on its way! Schools are empty and pools are full. Full of kids, pool noodles, and summer fun. Oh! And let’s not forget about germs. That’s right people, this week we’re discussing recreational water safety and how you can protect yourself and your family from germs in the water.

Before you jump in the pool do you make sure you’ve had a shower recently? If you have young children, do you make sure their diapers are clean before entering the water? If you answered yes to these questions, your fellow swimmers owe you a ‘thank you.’ If you answered no, you could be contributing a significant number of germs to the water you and others are splashing around in. Lucky for you, I have a few pointers to help keep you and your local watering hole free of illness-causing bacteria.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends following these 4 easy steps to keep germs out of the water:

  • Stay out of the water if you have diarrhea

  • Shower prior to entering the pool

  • Don’t pee or poop in the water

  • Don’t swallow the water

Another suggestion the CDC recommends is getting out of the pool every hour. Scheduling a break is helpful in more ways than one. It allows your family to grab a quick snack, take the kids on a restroom break, and reapply sunscreen. Your kids will appreciate the snack, and fellow swimmers will appreciate your effort to keep the pool clean.

No one wants to swim in dirty water, but sometimes it can be hard to tell if water is clean in the first place. Even though water looks clean, it doesn’t mean it’s free of illness-causing bacteria. The best way to determine if a pool/hot tub/water park is clean is to be aware of what you’re smelling. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), if the pool smells strongly of chemicals, it’s not likely that the pool is very clean. We often confuse that chemical smell with chlorine. In fact, what you’re smelling isn’t chlorine at all. It is the chemicals in chlorine mixing with sweat, pee, and poop in the water.

Worried about the health of your community’s recreational water facility? So are we. That’s why the Grafton-Taylor County Health Department inspects community pools twice during the summer season. Inspections test chlorine content, pH, and clarity of the water. The inspection also checks for basic safety measures, such as the safety of the pool deck, and presence of first aid kits.

If you have any questions concerning recreational water safety or how to keep the water you swim in clean, contact our Sanitarian Jeff Kiger at 304-265-1288 or visit our newly updated website at

The Grafton-Taylor County Health Department is featured in the Mountain Statesman every Wednesday in the Editorial section.

#watersafety #environmentalhealth #pools

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