It’s late May in Florida, which means it’s getting hot outside and will only get hotter from here.
The coronavirus pandemic has undoubtedly put a damper on some of your summer plans, but experts have a glimmer of good news: if extra precautions are taken, you can go to the pool without worrying about catching COVID-19 while swimming.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is no evidence that coronavirus can be spread to people through the water in pools, hot tubs, spas or water play areas.
Emergency medicine physician Dr. Rajiv Bahl said that while a trip to the pool won’t be what it was before the pandemic hit, you can take simple measures to keep yourself safe while enjoying the water.
“While it is considered safe to go into a pool during this pandemic, you should still practice social distancing and good hand hygiene. Although the virus does not travel or live in the water, you can still get the virus from an affected person just as you would outside of the water,” Bahl said.
If you’re gearing up to open the pool in your backyard, be sure to double-check the concentrations of chemicals you’re adding to the water, as proper amounts of chemicals will determine how protected you are from germs when swimming.
“By using proper operation and maintenance for pools, including disinfection with traditional chemicals like chlorine and bromine, there should be adequate protection to inactivate the virus in the water using these standard methods," Bahl said. "It is important to use the recommend chlorine and bromine concentrations for your pool to ensure adequate and proper protection.”
Bahl said that common areas around the pool should be your main concern when trying to mitigate your risk of contracting COVID-19. He advised against sharing goggles, snorkels or other swim equipment as they can be difficult to clean.
“The pool water itself may not be a concern for COVID-19 as it can be adequately cleaned with chlorine and bromine,” Bahl said. “However, if you are going to go to a pool and use amenities, you should still practice the current hygiene recommendations. This includes social distancing and washing your hands carefully before and after swimming, and especially before meals. Using shared services such as lockers, swimming equipment, and even railing to get into a pool still can be a potential to contract the virus however, with proper hygiene, you can still enjoy summer activities.”
If you decide to head to your nearest rec center and feel a little iffy about the cleanliness of the pool, Bahl suggested to simply ask the staff about their safety measures.
“Although many are creating policies to ensure that patrons of public pools are safe and healthy, it may be in your best interest to ask pool operators about cleaning and disinfecting pools and amenities, if they are going to enforce social distancing and if lifeguards will be present, as well,” Bahl said.