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Tips to Avoid Getting Sick from Public Swimming Pools

Before you and the family hit the local public pool to cool off on a hot San Jose summer’s day, take a few precautions to avoid coming away with more than just a suntan. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), pools and water playgrounds contain parasites – waterborne diseases that cause outbreaks and illnesses. One type of parasite can survive and thrive even in well-maintained swimming pools. Take these steps to minimize your chances of getting sick from public pools.

Know What You’re Up Against

Knowledge is power when it comes to combatting diseases in public pools. In the past 15 years, there have been about 500 documented parasite outbreaks linked to swimming pools, water playgrounds, and hot tubs. These outbreaks have made 27,219 people ill and killed eight victims. The CDC has conducted in-depth studies about bacteria and parasites in public pools and found that the most outbreaks (one third) occur in hotel pools and hotel hot tubs, in the summer.

The three waterborne diseases involved in the majority of outbreaks are Cryptosporidium (58% of outbreaks and 89% of illnesses), Pseudomonas, and Legionella. Crypto is the disease that can survive even with the proper amounts of chlorine and pool maintenance. The other two exist primarily in slimy areas in pools and hot tubs. The most common symptoms from illnesses contracted in public swimming pools are skin infections, respiratory problems, and diarrhea.

Don’t Swallow the Water

The most common parasite, Crypto, spreads when someone who has the virus has diarrhea in the pool or hot tub. Anyone who consumes the water may then get sick from the parasite. Preventing an outbreak takes a shared effort from everyone in the body of water. First, no one should enter the pool with diarrhea. If your child is feeling ill, skip the swimming pool.

Next, no one swimming should swallow any of the water. Swallowing just a mouthful of contaminated water can lead to diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and stomach cramps in children and adults. Teach your kids not to put pool water in their mouths to reduce the risk of illness. Chlorine cannot kill Crypto quickly enough to make water safe if someone has had diarrhea. Get your kids out of the water immediately in the event of an accident in the pool.

Swim Somewhere Other Than at the Hotel

Hotel swimming areas reported the highest number of parasite and disease outbreaks, according to the CDC. Thirty-two percent of outbreaks happened at hotels, motels, inns, and lodges. If possible, skip swimming at the hotel completely and go for a dip in the Pacific Ocean instead. Otherwise, be extra careful when using hotel swimming pools, hot tubs, water playgrounds, and spa areas.

Avoid Contaminated Pools

If the water looks questionable, don’t get in. Water should be clear, not cloudy. You should be able to see the bottom of the pool. It should not have any color – greens, browns, etc. can mean contamination or poor pool maintenance. If the pool or its elements appear slimy, don’t get in. The pool or hot tub’s jet streams should be working as intended, with nothing obstructing the filter. Try to find the swimming area’s latest inspection report. The public pool or hotel should have it posted somewhere clearly. The inspection should be up-to-date, with positive results.

When in Doubt, Go Somewhere Else

Public pools can seem like a great place to spend a hot day in San Jose, but a contaminated pool won’t be worth cooling off. If there are too many people in the pool, no showers available, lots of kids and pets swimming, sick-looking people swimming, discolored water, or other signs of something amiss, go with your gut and don’t swim. You’re not being paranoid by taking the family elsewhere to spend the day: you could be avoiding serious waterborne illnesses.

If you or a loved one became sick after visiting an unkempt swimming pool and believe the hotel was negligent, the premises liability lawyers at Henshaw & Henry, PC can help. Contact us today to schedule your free initial consult.