Beware dirty pools

McClatchy-Tribune News ServiceJuly 26, 2009 

A new pool study might give swimmers pause before they dive in this summer.

The 'ick' factor

About one in five Americans admitted to urinating in the pool and about one-third said they do not take showers before swimming. Seventy-eight percent think fellow swimmers engage in unhygienic behavior, according to the survey, which was conducted by the Water Quality and Health Council, an independent group of science experts and health professionals.

Health risks

Unhygienic behavior can cause illnesses including diarrhea, respiratory illness and infections. Between 2005 and 2006, almost 4,500 people were affected by the illnesses across 31 states according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Protect yourself

The CDC offers these tips to keep the water clean:

Don't swim when you have diarrhea.

Don't swallow the pool water.

Shower with soap before swimming and wash your hands after using the toilet or changing diapers.

Take your kids on bathroom breaks or check diapers often.

Change diapers in a bathroom or diaper-changing area and not at poolside.

Wash your child thoroughly (especially the rear end) with soap and water before swimming.

Examine the pool

The water should be clean and clear, and the sides should be smooth, not sticky or slippery. You should be able to hear the pool filtration system. A strong smell -- even a strong chlorine smell -- is another warning sign.

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