staying prepared during 2020 with a backyard pool
Like any outdoor activity, there is a certain amount of risk in swimming in backyard pools due to the coronavirus. Should you choose to take it, here’s how you can do so as safely as possible.
While public swimming pools are finally opening up in Utah with many restrictions during coronavirus, many families, especially those in the suburbs, are wondering if it’s safe to swim in backyard swimming pools and if they can have friends, neighbors, or even extended family over to cool down with them. The good news is, the CDC has not yet detected the virus in water that is treated with filtration and disinfection (pool water). In other words, it is believed that the chemicals in your pool can kill or inactivate the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. However, safety measures should not be taken lightly. If your family chooses to take the risk of swimming in backyard pools this summer, here are the answers to some questions that can help you swim in backyard pools as safely as possible.
Can the coronavirus spread through pool water?
There is no evidence that the virus that causes COVID-19 can be spread from person to person through the water in swimming pools, hot tubs, spas, or water play areas, as long as the water is well-maintained and cleaned regularly, according to the CDC. Proper operation and maintenance (including disinfection with chlorine and bromine) of these facilities should inactivate the virus in the water. Pool owners should follow the CDC’s pool safety guidelines before swimming in or allowing others to swim in their pool.
Does chlorine kill coronavirus?
Remember: Well-maintained pools are less likely to spread germs. “The average amount of chlorine that’s in a pool is going to kill the virus,” says Roberta Lavin, a professor of medicine at the University of Tennessee’s College of Nursing. So the answer is yes, it is believed that chlorine can inactivate the coronavirus.
But there is something we need to keep in mind, especially with younger kids swimming in pools. Peeing in the pool isn’t only gross (though kids will inevitably do it at least once in their lives), pee reacts with chlorine, reducing the amount of chemical available to kill any viruses in the water, according to the Water Quality & Health Council. So if there’s any summer to not pee in the pool, it’s this one.
Are saltwater swimming pools safe to swim in during the coronavirus pandemic?
There is no evidence that supports the inactivation of the coronavirus in saltwater pools, so they should be avoided for now, Dr. Aslam Jangda recommends. Saltwater pools generally have lower chlorine levels, which puts an individual at higher risk for coronavirus than if they were in an average chlorinated pool.
Are hot tubs safe to use during COVID-19 pandemic?
The CDC says there is no evidence to back up the survival potential of the virus in hot tubs as long as they are well maintained and disinfected. However, since hot tubs have a much smaller diameter than pools, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to properly distance yourself from others while in a hot tub. So avoid hot tubs as much as you can.
Is keeping 6 feet distance in the pool enough to keep you safe?
No, it’s not enough. Pool-goers should practice social distance as well as good hygiene when getting in and out of the pool. Keep in mind: While swimming (especially kids), people are often touching their face, mouth, and nose more often than normal, whether it is to rub your eyes after coming up for air or hold your nose. Some tips from the CDC for maintaining good hygiene while swimming are:
Follow local and state guidelines that determine when and how recreational water facilities may operate, including how many can be present in a pool in accordance to its size
Minimize the amount of surfaces being touched before getting into the pool and after getting out
Wash your hands
Do not share towels or toys (volleyballs, beach balls, floaties, etc.).
Owners of pools, hot tubs, spas, and play areas should follow the interim guidance for cleaning and disinfecting their water facilities