The Ick Factor: Kids, Showers, and Public PoolsDanielle Sullivan
According to a recent poll by University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health, the majority of parents polled said it was not that important for their kids to shower before swimming in a public pool.
Out of 865 parents of children aged 5-12, only a small minority considered showering before swimming a health priority:
“While 64 percent of parents feel it is very important for children to not swallow the water at a water park, only 26 percent of parents think it is very important to shower before getting in the water,” says Matthew Davis, director of the poll and associate professor in the Child Health Evaluation and Research Unit at the University’s Medical School.
I got admit, I find public pools, well, gross. With all the bodies in and out of the pool all day long, I don’t care how many chemicals are in there, I really don’t want my kids swimming around the blend of body fluids, dirty diapers, and who knows what else. It might sound neurotic, but I find it disgusting.
While water parks are expected to keep the water properly disinfected, how many do at all times? Also, researchers say the disinfection can only go so far:
Although chlorine kills most of the germs that cause RWIs within an hour, cryptosporidiosis, a parasite that causes abdominal cramping, diarrhea and nausea, can survive for days even in properly disinfected water.
It’s estimated that recreational water illnesses (RWI) affect more than 10,000 Americans each year. They are spread by swallowing, breathing in or contacting contaminated water. Of course, these numbers might also reflect the beach, and ocean water which is filled with God knows what. Every year about mid-summer, you’ll see NY and NJ beaches closed for contamination.
Perhaps my disdain for public pools stems from the dirty, overcrowded pools I’ve seen in New York City, where sometimes there is standing room only it seems. I’m sure that there are places where the pool are properly maintained…but I can’t say they still wouldn’t gross me out a little.
Do you let your kids swim in public pools? Do you make them shower before diving in?
Land, sea, and air: Know where to look in Babble’s Germ Matrix!