Wanted: Outstanding pool etiquette and pool sanitary behavior

We are thoroughly entrenched in the “dog days of summer,” having already received multiple warnings about too much sun and too many biting disease-bearing ticks. Concerning our indoor and outdoor pools, Sun City/Huntley’s seniors should have been taught by now how to enter our community’s swimming lanes using notification of their presence as a form of safe and proper etiquette. But another very important correct behavior supports safe and sanitary conditions in our three pools and two hot tubs. Here then is swimming pool advice relevant to all year round for all of you “water babies.”

Have you ever wondered why some commercial and private pools make your eyes red and irritated? Or have you also wondered why often the same pools present themselves with a strong pungent smell of chlorine? If you guessed that the scent of chlorine has to be present to prove that the pool is optimally sanitized, you would be wrong. According to The Wall Street Journal article entitled “A Sanitary Pool Requires Proper Behavior” by Jo Craven McGinty, there is a lot to learn from current scientific testing of pool samples, both here and in Canada. While you might question the ick factor of swimming in pools tainted with urine, “the real concern is what happens chemically,” according to Lindsay Blackstock, a doctoral student involved in pool water analysis at the University of Alberta, Canada. WSJ’s McGinty also adds, “Urine combines with chlorine to create byproducts that irritate the eyes and respiratory system (leading to coughing or a runny nose), and the spent chlorine is no longer available to kill (other) disease-causing germs.”

As Michele Hlavsa, chief of the Healthy Swimming Program for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), further states, “Urine isn’t a primary source of germs in pools or hot tubs, but feces that clings to the body is.” She continues “At any time, adults have about .14 grams of poop on their bottoms and children have as much as 10 grams of it.” This can amount to as much as 22 pounds of poop daily possible at one of the larger water parks heavily visited by kids. These same feces can lead to viruses, parasites, and bacteria that also lead to diarrhea, vomiting, and other illnesses. In 2011 and 2012, exposure to these and other similar organisms led to the recording of 185 illnesses by the CDC. Nearly 900 more cases were blamed on cryptosporidium, a chlorine-resistant parasite.

Remember, a healthy pool should have very little odor. So how should seniors here at Sun City/Huntley keep our sources of water activities optimally sanitized for our own health protection? Don’t skip those showers on your way into swimming or water walking or water exercising classes. Germs can enter your bodies through pores in your skin, as well as your ears, nose, mouth, and genital/rectal areas. Our WSJ article reminds us “Shower for about one minute before swimming (or reentering water areas) to remove personal-care products and traces of feces. And stop using the pool like an Olympic-size toilet!”

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