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Practice Pool Safety This Summer

Written by Courteney

Posted on June 17, 2016 at 7:46 pm


Swimming pool fun is one of the biggest summertime perks – but there are some hazards to watch out for at public pools. Fun is fun, but safety first!

Watch Out For Foot Fungus! 

The damp shower areas of public swimming pools provide ideal conditions for fungal and bacterial infections to thrive and spread. One particular infection people commonly pick up around swimming pools is Athlete’s foot. Medically known as tinea pedis, athletes foot is a fungal infection usually associated with the feet. It often starts between the toes and develops after a person sweats a lot in tight fitting shoes or pick the fungus up in a communal area such as public swimming pool showers. Symptoms include an itchy, burning rash with a scaly appearance. Untreated athlete’s foot can migrate to other areas of the body such as the groin area. It can be treated by OTC medications but it often resurfaces, so it is best to try to prevent getting it in the first place and use flip-flops in the shower and by the poolside when attending public pools.

Chlorine – Clean + Mean

Chlorine is a complex chemical – on one hand it does a great job of sanitizing and oxidizing swimming pool water, but it also causes reactions in some people, irritates eyes and skin and has other downsides as well. According to the Canadian Cancer Society, research has established chlorine by-products trihalomethanes and haloacetic acids as a carcinogenic. Studies suggest people exposed to chlorine excessively and over a prolonged period of time may have increased risk of certain cancers such as bladder or colorectal.

Precautions to Take Against Chlorine

This is not to say swimmers will develop cancer or adverse reactions, occasional chlorinated swimming will not increase risk, someone swimming in chlorinated indoor pools everyday for a decade may have a slightly increased risk. All in all, precautions to take to protect yourself against some of the effects of chlorine include:

  • showering afterward with soap
  • staying well hydrated before swimming
  • wear protective goggles so your eyes don’t become irritated
  • limiting your time in chlorine if you are an avid swimmer (try some natural lakes and ponds instead when you get the opportunity)!

Germs Love Pools

While pools that are chemically treated typically destroy most harmful bacteria, some of these can survive for a while in chlorine, allowing them to be passed from swimmer to swimmer causing infections and illness. Because of the moist nature of swimming pool decks and locker rooms, these are great places for harmful bacteria and fungi to spread. Be sure to take the following precautions to reduce your risk of contracting disease or infection around a pool:

  • Do not use a communal pool if you have an infection, open wound or spreadable illness
  • Do not put small children into a pool wearing diapers, only special “swim diapers” designed for pools
  • Get a shower before and directly after using swimming in a pool
  • Wear flip-flops when walking around the pool and be cautious of surfaces you touch in locker rooms
  • Don’t ingest pool water
  • Ensure you are swimming in a clean, appropriately filtered pool
  • Refrain from urinating or spitting into the pool water (this one should be a no brainer!)

Thanks for visiting DocChat! Keep an eye out for our next post on how to recognize a drowning victim.


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