Healthy & Safe Swimming
Pools, water attractions, and lakes can provide hours of fun, but they can also cause illness. We monitor recreational water, but you can also take steps to stay healthy.
At the Beach
Always Look at Water Conditions
Before swimming, always take an overall look at water conditions. Conditions can change quickly, and posted testing results may not always reflect real-time water quality.
Do not swim or let your dog swim if:
- We have just had a heavy rainfall
Swimming is not advisable after a heavy rainfall because bacteria levels in the water may be high. Bacteria, viruses and protozoa in the water can cause some ear and eye infections, stomach aches, diarrhea, and flu-like symptoms.
- You see a blue-green algae bloom
Blue-green algae can appear blue-green, reddish-purple, or brown, and cause the water to be murky.
If You Have Been in the Water with Blue-Green Algae
- Rinse off well when you get out.
- If you have symptoms you think are due to contact with the blooms, call your health care provider or Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.
Tips for Dog Owners
Dogs that come into contact with algal blooms can get sick and sometimes die because their bodies are smaller and they tend to swallow a lot of water.
- Always look at water conditions before letting your dog swim or wade.
- Provide your dog a fresh water source to minimize the amount of lake water they drink.
- Rinse your dog off as soon as possible after being in the water. Since dogs often lick their fur, they can ingest toxins even after they are dry.
If your dog has been in the water near an algae bloom, call your vet if they seem ill afterwards.
In Pools, Hot Tubs, and Splash Pads
Keep the Water Clean
- Stay out of the water if you have diarrhea.
Germs like cryptosporidium, norovirus, and E. coli can spread when someone who has diarrhea swims in pool water. Other people can get sick if they swallow the germy water. Germs in the water can also cause skin, ear, and lung infections.
- Shower before you get in the water.
This helps the pool chemicals use their power to kill germs. When we do not rinse off, pool chemicals break down pee, poop, sweat and dirt instead of killing germs. Showering for just 1 minute removes most of the dirt or anything else on the body that uses up pool chemicals.
- Don’t pee or poop in the water.
Swim diapers and swim pants do not stop germs or diarrhea from getting into the water. If you are at the pool for the day, plan for a bathroom break every hour.
Pay Attention to Water Quality
- Make sure you can see the bottom of the pool even at the deep end.
- Smell little or no chemical odor. Healthy pools, waterparks, hot tubs, splash pads, and spray parks don’t have a strong chemical smell.
- Ask to see inspection results or a testing log.
For more information, check out CDC’s How to Swim Healthy.