Everyone loves to take a dip in the pool during their favorite summer season. But at times, things can be a bit unhygienic in the pool or inside any water body for that reason. Hence, here are few hacks or tips which can help you stay healthy during your swimming time.
1) Learn basic water safety skills
You don’t need to have the swimming skills of U.S. Olympic champions Katie Ledecky or Michael Phelps to have a good and safe time at the pool, McCuiston says. “Basic water safety skills – like treading water, how to properly get in and out of the pool, floating on your back and the crab walk – can go a long way” toward keeping you safe at the pool, she says. Of course, taking swimming lessons is also a good idea. There are programs like Goldfish Swim School across the country that focus on children’s water safety. YMCA facilities and many local community swimming pools offer swim lessons at little or no cost. Private lessons are another option.
2) Have pool safety items handy
In addition to life jackets, you should have basic safety items on hand at the pool, says Greg Longe, chief executive officer of British Swim School, which has nearly 200 swim schools in 21 states in the U.S. and internationally. Be sure to have a working, charged cellphone, in case you need to call 911, as well as a first aid kit and a ring buoy you can toss to someone during a water safety emergency.
3) Keep the pool deck clear
It’s important to keep the area around the pool tidy, Longe says. “Abandoned floats, balls or other toys in or around the pool area can act as a temptation for a child to be near the pool area unsupervised,” he says. “Glass bottles are another potential hazard around the pool at any time, as they could easily get knocked (into the water) unintentionally.”
4) Wear sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses
Whether you’re in the water or lounging with a book on the pool deck, be sure to liberally apply sunscreen with a high level of protection from ultraviolet rays, Mondick says. “If you are spending time outside, you should wear UV-protected sunglasses, a hat and waterproof sunscreen to help protect yourself from the sun’s rays,” she says. She notes that the Food and Drug Administration recommends using a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher to protect your skin from aging and cancer. Also, “broad spectrum” sunscreens will block harmful ultraviolet rays. Whatever sunscreen you use, limit your time in the sun between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when the sun’s rays are at their highest levels of intensity. The FDA recommends reapplying sunscreen at least every two hours, and more often if you are in and out of the water often.
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5) Shower before you swim
Whatever you have on your skin – sweat, dirt or oil – will be in the pool if you get in without showering. In a 2019 survey by the Water Quality & Health Council, more than 51% of Americans report “using a swimming pool as a communal bathtub,” by either swimming as a substitute for showering or using the pool to rinse off after strenuous activity.
The findings are bad news for everyone. “When dirt, sweat, personal care products and other things on our body react with chlorine, there is less chlorine available to kill germs,” says Chris Wiant, chair of the Water Quality & Health Council, an independent group sponsored by the Chlorine Chemistry Division of the American Chemistry Council. “Rinsing off for just one minute removes most of the dirt, sweat or anything else on your body.”
6) Don’t swim with open wounds
Those urban myths that suggest that swimming chlorine or salt water can help “disinfect” or clean a wound? Don’t believe them, says Dr. Richard N. Bradley, the chief of emergency medical services and disaster medicine at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth in Houston. “Bacteria can enter through an open wound and cause a serious or even fatal infection,” Bradley says. “There are some kinds of bacteria that can be found in sea water, and other kinds that are found in fresh water.
The key thing to remember is that all water has bacteria in it, including sea water and chlorinated pool water. As hard as it can be to sit out when everyone else is having fun, the risk just isn’t worth it.” If you nonetheless go into the pool with an open wound and start to see signs of infection, like increased pain, tenderness and redness at the site of the injury, contact your doctor or go to an emergency department right away.
7) Don’t pee in the pool
This one should be a no-brainer. Nonetheless, the Water Quality & Health Council’s survey found that 40% of Americans admit they’ve urinated in the pool as an adult. Urine reacts with chlorine, reducing the amount of chlorine available to combat and kill germs. “The bottom line is: Don’t pee in the pool,” says Michele Hlavsa, chief of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Healthy Swimming Program. “Swimming is a great way to be physically active, and not peeing in the pool is a key healthy swimming step.”
8) Read and follow the rules
Before you jump in the water, read the pool’s rules, which are typically posted in a prominent location at or near the pool entrance, McCuiston says. Pool rules often include prohibitions on swimming if you have a cold or other contagious disease, as well as running on the pool deck, diving in the shallow end and bringing recreational equipment, like a ball, unless authorized by the lifeguard. Pool rules also typically require swimmers to wear proper swimsuits and all children to be accompanied by an adult. If you take your child to the pool, be sure he or she understands and follows the rules.