I am no fan of jumping into public pools. Yet, everyone I know seems to love them. Everyone wants to go to public pools and water parks and communally share water with everyone who walks in the entrance. I am just not a fan of such activities. Still, for many people, especially in the summer, they are a great way to beat to heat, stay off the streets, and get some exercise.
However, running to the public pool with a family is not always convenient. Or, cheap. The daily entrance fees for municipal and state-run public pools can cost a few bucks or more. Entrance fees for public water parks can cost scores of dollars. The fee for an annual pass to a state-run public pool can be as high as $150.
The cost to build an in-ground, backyard pool can cost over $30,000. So, when you consider that most young people and families want to jump in pools during the warmer months, it might not be a bad alternative. Still, I am always the odd-person odd claiming something doesn’t feel right, like the P.O.V. character in a horror movie before the terror strike.
Recently, as I got into a public pool with some friends and family, I noticed an acrid, strong-smelling scent of chlorine coming from the water. Everyone thought I was overreacting when I mentioned it, even after the fact that we all got red eyes. My friends and family assumed that the pool workers put in too much chlorine.
However, I soon learned that what we were smelling was not chlorine. Also, I learned with progressively worsening levels of horror movie dread that there might be nothing more terrifying in this world than a public swimming pool.
People Are Gross
What I smelled in that public pool was not chlorine. It was a chemical byproduct called chloramine, which is created when the nitrogen in urine, feces, and sweat interacts with chlorine. A well-chlorinated pool should not singe your eyes and nostrils as if you sniffed directly and heavily from a chlorine bottle. This overwhelming smell and physical reaction meant that the pool was overburdened with human waste.
The pool’s chlorine levels had to be replenished. A pool is carefully calibrated for a particular amount of chlorine based on water amount and occupancy levels. If you are immaculately clean before getting in a pool, then the chlorine will have more potency to disinfect, kill bacteria, germs, and other waterborne diseases.
Unfortunately, most people are not immaculately clean. According to some recent health study reports, about 51% of people use public swimming pools expressly to bathe. Over 48% never bathe, shower, or clean themselves before getting into a pool. Most disgustingly, almost a quarter of adults have gotten into a pool within 60 minutes of experiencing severe bouts of bowel distress.
Strategically Time Your Pool Visits
You can contract a host of illnesses and diseases from unclean pool water, like parasites, skin rash, or Legionnaire’s disease, which is a kind of pneumonia. If there is one memory that a family or a group of friends don’t need to make at a public pool, it’s contracting the same, gross waterborne illness at once.
The water in public swimming pools are drained and refilled once, maybe twice a year, if that.
When there are too many people in the pool, especially unhygienic ones, the accumulation of dirt, germs, and bacteria overwhelms the carefully calculated pool chemistry of chlorination. Depending on the facility, a pool is heavily replenished with chlorine after large capacity visits on a daily or weekly schedule.
There are a few things you can do to stay safe. Never swallow pool water. It should go without saying, but never use a public pool for personal bathing. Or, as a restroom alternative. Ask the pool staff when they chlorinate the pool, which is a process called pool shocking. You can also check online for the inspection reports of your local state-operated pool.
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