Summer vacations are about to go into full swing. AAA is estimating that Americans will take 700 million trips this summer. That’s about 15% less compared to the summer of 2019, but it’s still a whole lot of people traveling.
Lots of people traveling means lots of people using hotel swimming pools and other bodies of water. So the big question is, can you catch COVID-19 from a swimming pool? How about from lakes? Rivers? The ocean? And what are the risks?
The 2019 Novel Coronavirus is still new to humankind and scientists are learning more about it every day. However, as far as experts can tell, water in a swimming pool won’t give you coronavirus, as long as it’s well maintained, chemically. Standard disinfection with chlorine or bromine will kill the virus in water. The CDC says, similarly, that “proper operation and disinfection of pools, hot tubs, and water playgrounds should kill the virus that causes COVID-19.”.
Of course, if you’re on vacation, you might not be swimming in a pool. Well, if you’re swimming in the ocean, the saltwater will make it difficult for any virus to survive. And even if you’re in freshwater, such as a lake or river, the water, just as it would in any large body of water, would dilute any virus in secretions, which would make it difficult to infect you.
So then you can swim wherever you want and not risk getting sick?
You probably won’t catch COVID-19 simply by being in a body of water. Either the chemicals or salt in the water will kill the virus, or the vast amount of water would dilute any virus that got in, so it wouldn’t be enough to infect you. But that’s not how the virus is usually transmitted.
Coronavirus is spread either from touching a surface with the virus on it and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Or you can get it by being near someone who has the virus (whether they know it or not – even people who don’t have symptoms are contagious) and who coughs or sneezes near you, or breathes, talks, sings, screams near you.
So it’s not so much the body of water itself as who else is in the water with you, if they have the virus (and again, you can have it and not know it!), and how close they are to you for how long. That’s why social distancing is recommended, even in the water.
Other recommendations to keep yourself safe while at the pool/lake/ocean/etc.:
- Bring your own lounge chair and towel. Hopefully the hotel staff is cleaning each chair as a person leaves. But if you can bring your own, even better.
- Don’t let your kids share pool toys with others. You don’t know who might be sick and not show symptoms. They could touch the toy with “virusy” (I made that word up. It’s like “germy,” but for a virus) hands, which your kids touch, and then they wipe their eyes, for example.
- Don’t share your drinks with friends. If either of you are positive for the virus, you’d be transferring it from mouth to can/cup/bottle to mouth.
- Wash your hands as often as possible.
- Wear a mask whenever possible (but not if you’re going underwater. Some drama llamas are saying they can’t breathe with a mask on. Well no, unless you have an actual diagnosis of some sort, it’s just uncomfortable to breathe in one, but you certainly physically can; you just don’t like to. But if you’re going underwater with a mask on, the mask will get water sodden and then yeah, it’ll be more difficult to breathe through. So you don’t have to wear one if you’re going underwater).
- Bring hand sanitizer or disinfecting wipes in case you have to touch any shared surfaces (remember if you’re flying to your destination, you can bring much more hand sanitizer in your carry on than previously).
- Keep a 6-foot distance from people who aren’t within your household. At a pool, that’s about the length of 2 pool noodles.
- Outdoor pools have more ventilation than indoor pools. If you have a choice, choose an outdoor pool.
#stayhealthy #staysafe #washyourhands
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary