Tips on Healthy Recreational Swimming in Pools and Spas

  • Don't swim, or allow your child to swim, if either of you has diarrhea. Remember that diapers-even those designed for swimming-do not prevent feces from leaking into the water. Swimming while you have diarrhea, may spread bacteria and viruses that could make others sick.
  • Don't drink the water, and try to avoid getting it in your mouth. Bathing water is not intended for drinking!
  • Wash your hands after using the toilet or after changing a baby's diapers and don't change your children's diapers by the poolside. Change your children's diapers in the bathroom or in a designated changing area, not by the side of the pool.
  • Shower before entering the pool.
  • Ensure that pool chlorination levels are maintained at adequate levels at all times. Some bacteria remain viable in pool water for only hours while some that are resistant to pool chemicals can remain for as long as seven days.

What if There is an Accident?

There should always be concern whenever there is an accidental exposure to feces or stool in a pool environment. However, CDC's recommendations vary slightly depending on if the event were from diarrhea or form stool. In both cases, the operator needs to remove as much of the material as possible and increase the level of disinfecting chlorine in the water. In the case of diarrhea, the free chlorine level is recommended to be raised to 20ppm and maintained at this level for a contact time of eight hours, while in the case of a formed stool, free chlorine levels should be raised to 2ppm for a contact time of thirty minutes before reopening the pool.

>> Diseases Related to Recreational Swimming and Bathing

EHA's Outbreak Response Team

EHA's team of public health epidemiologists stand ready to respond and investigate disease outbreaks associated with recreational swimming. As past regulatory inspectors responsible for inspection of pools and spas, our team has the expertise to investigate the means in which diseases are spread via recreational waters.