Avoiding recreational water illnesses

By • Published: June 26th, 2009
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Chances are, when you think about the dangers of water, your imagination takes you to the azure depths of the sea, where sharks circle, ready to chomp the first arm that comes their way. Or perhaps you envision a murky river, where razor-toothed piranha and alligators dwell.

But what about the dangers that lurk in the seemingly safe blue abyss that is your local swimming pool? True, the germs that sometimes accumulate in pools, water fountains and hot tubs may not be as scary as sharks, but they can cause illnesses that could leave you running for the bathroom.

Although chlorine keeps most germs at bay, bacteria such as shigella, giardia, E. coli and crypto can still contaminate pools, particularly if chlorine and pH levels are not properly maintained.

Diarrhea is the most common sickness people encounter after exposure to contaminated pool water. But swimming in germy waters can also cause infections and other problems.

So how do you steer clear of these bacterial invaders and help prevent them from spreading? First, if you own a pool, make sure your chlorine and pH levels are maintained as well as your pool’s filtration systems.

Second, don’t swallow pool water and use proper hygiene before and after taking a swim.

Third, if you’re a parent, make sure your children take regular bathroom breaks and are wearing clean diapers while swimming.

Lastly, if you know you’re sick, keep your germs at home. No one wants to see shigella in a bikini, anyway.