After months of being quarantined at home, the world is opening up again. And that’s perfect timing for many, considering it’s hot outside, and hot=time to swim. If you have your own swimming pool, you’re probably considering yourself pretty lucky right now. But what if you don’t? Is it safe to use the community pool? We’re diving in.
Can you get coronavirus from swimming pools?
“First, the growing consensus among experts is that the possibility of catching the coronavirus outdoors is much lower than indoors. But it is not zero,” said the New York Times.
The latest research indicates that the water itself doesn’t pose a danger. “There’s nothing inherent about ocean water or especially pool water that is risky,” Dr. Ebb Lautenbach, chief of infectious diseases at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine, told them. “The bug isn’t transmitted via a waterborne route. Chlorine and bromine that are in pools inactivate the virus and makes it even lower risk in terms of catching it from the water.”
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed in its recent guidelines for operating swimming pools during the coronavirus pandemic that, “There is no evidence that the virus that causes COVID-19 can be spread to people through the water in pools, hot tubs, spas, or water play areas,” said USA Today.
So, the problem isn’t in the water. But that doesn’t mean it’s safe to run to the pool in droves. In fact, the droves are precisely the issue.
The CDC’s concern is about spread through close proximity and unhygienic areas. Among their recommendations are:
Keep your distance—"Many homeowner’s associations are already limiting the number of people allowed in common areas at one time so that everyone can stay at least 6 feet apart,” said HOA RESOURCES. But if there are more than six people at your pool, you’ll have to be even more aware of social distancing techniques. Avoid “group events, gatherings, or meetings both in and out of the water if social distancing of at least 6 feet between people who don’t live together cannot be maintained,” said the CDC.
Keep clean—Make sure to wash hands often and cover sneezes and coughs. It also helps to be aware of frequently touched surfaces at the pool, like door handles, handrails, lounge chairs, and tabletops.
Bring your own disinfectant—Especially now, community pools should be well-stocked with cleaning supplies and should have advanced procedures for keeping common areas disinfected. But it doesn’t hurt to be prepared. Stock your swim bag with soap, hand sanitizer, and wipes so you can help everyone stay safe.
Wear a mask, when appropriate—The CDC encourages “the use of cloth face coverings as feasible. Face coverings are most essential in times when physical distancing is difficult.” However, masks shouldn’t be worn in the water because they can make it hard to breathe.
Know when to stay home—Stay home if you have symptoms of COVID-19, have tested positive for COVID-19, or were exposed to someone with COVID-19 within the last 14 days).”
Don’t share objects—If you plan to bring accessories like balls, goggles, or pool noodles, be sure they’re not being shared with other people. “Discourage people from sharing items that are difficult to clean, sanitize, or disinfect or that are meant to come in contact with the face (for example, goggles, nose clips, and snorkels),” said the Community Associations Institute. “Discourage sharing of items such as food, equipment, toys, and supplies with those they don’t live with.”