Someone I know once referred to public swimming pools as "one giant toilet" which gave me the dry heaves. But he had a point. With non-toilet-trained toddlers and lazy children (and adults!) in the water, swimming pools may not be the most sanitary places to relax, despite regular cleanings.
Time Magazine reported on a CDC study that monitored the bacteria levels of 161 private and public swimming pools and parks in the Atlanta region last year. The results were troubling to say the least.
About half of the pools contained E. coli, stemming from bowel movements passed in the water or unclean bodies that cause fecal matter to end up in the pool.
Most swimming pools ask that a person showers before entering the water. This is to wipe off any tanning oils that can cause a slight slick in the water.
It also rids the body of as much fecal matter as possible -- fecal matter that remains if the body is not carefully cleaned after a bowel movement. (This fully justifies my insistence that all my children use a wet baby wipe to finish personal cleaning!)
Even regular pool cleanings aren't enough. Making sure ill people stay away from the water (in case they cannot control their bowels properly) and making sure children are vigilant about not using the pool as a toilet is really important.
Another problem arises when babies are not wearing proper swim diapers. Regular diapers do not work in pools and are not made to be submerged. Failure to ensure that these swim diapers are regularly checked and changed can pose a health risk. Regular checking of the water content by staff is also mandatory.
The Time article also listed some key recommendations by the CDC:
"- Take bathroom breaks every 60 minutes.
- Wash your hands after using the toilet or changing diapers.
- Try not to swallow the pool water."
There are several ways to keep a pool clean although no pool can be guaranteed 100 percent free of any germ or bacteria. But removing any visible materials can keep the pool free of tangible substances and the water should be clear to look at.
If the water looks dirty, or has slime, foam or a oily slick on the top, it's not clean.