The Gross Truth About Public Pools
And water parks, kiddie pools, and hot tubs.
Summer is upon us, and you’re probably making a lot of plans: swimming, lounging on the beach, bringing the kids to the water playground, and more swimming at your favorite local watering hole.
But a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that almost 80 percent of public aquatic “venues” violated at least one component of an inspection. That’s almost 39,000 pools, water playgrounds—even wading pools for kids—that could be unsafe for you and your family.
Violations ranged from improper pH and disinfectant concentration to the quality (or presence) of necessary safety equipment.
Basically, a lot of your favorite public aquatic destinations may be at a high risk for spreading infectious disease. Other concerns expressed by the CDC this week were the increased risk of drowning (properties lacking self-latching gates, for example) and “chemical-associated health events.” The latter are caused by inaccurate chemical mixtures, and could be as minor as rashes or as extreme as poisoning.
After the study was conducted, 1 in every 5 kiddie pools was closed.
Now, don’t panic quite yet: the survey period was in 2013, and focused on the major states of New York, Texas, Florida, California, and Arizona. But it’s important to keep in mind that this is the most recent data available, and that it represents a vast and likely persistent property.
This summer, the CDC is encouraging water enthusiasts to take their own precautions:
Look for the Drain
Check to see if you can spot the drain in the deep end. Clear water makes it easier to locate swimmers who may be in need of assistance.
Be Your Own Scientist
It’s easy to purchase test strips from a pool-supply or hardware store. You can test pH levels and the concentration of bromine and chlorine to make sure the chemical levels are safe.
Use Your Senses
When it comes to public hot tubs, keep a few things in mind. Surfaces should be smooth, not stick or slippery; you should be able to hear the sounds of the pump and filter working there should not be any strong chemical aromas.
Melanie Lieberman is the Assistant Digital Editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @melanietaryn.