Many of us tend to shower after swimming, but do you ever shower before you hop into the pool?
A new poll, which surveyed parents of elementary school students, finds not all parents have their kids shower before swimming in the pool.
Of the 865 parents surveyed by C.S. Mott Children's Hospital at the University of Michigan, only about 26 percent felt it was very important to take a shower before swimming.
However, 64 percent said it's very important to avoid swallowing pool water.
The findings suggest many parents don't understand the range of risks for contacting waterborne infections. Read more about Recreational Water Illnesses.
"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, M.D., director of the poll and associate professor in the Child Health Evaluation and Research Unit at the U-M Medical School. "Parents seem to understand the risk of contaminated water for their kids but few have their kids take the necessary preventive steps to keep everyone healthy."
Every year, more than 10,000 Americans get sick from water illnesses, which can cause diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal cramps and fever. They can also lead to ear, respiratory and eye infections. They can happen when people swallow contaminated water and having contact with dirty water in swimming pools, water parks, even in lakes, rivers and oceans.
Of those surveyed, 65 percent of parents think preventing Recreational Water Illnesses is a shared responsibility between parents and water park staff. Some 28 percent of parents think water park staff along is responsible.
"This poll shows that relatively few parents fully understand their role in preventing infections at water parks," Davis said. "The 'shower before entering' rule posted at water parks nationwide isn't meant to be optional. Showering is a simple and effective way to reduce the spread of germs, including some germs like Cryptosporidium that are not killed with conventional levels of chlorine. When parents let their kids play at a water park without showering, they may be raising the risk of infection for everyone."
We spoke with a local pool expert at Tarson Pools who says it's a good idea to shower before you hop in the pool to get the sweat and bacteria off your skin because they can cut down on the chemicals used in the pool. You should also shower after swimming to rinse the chlorine off your body.
Experts recommend water park staff treat with high levels of chlorine intermittently and use ozone or ultra-violet treatment technologies to prevent illness.
Parents can follow these steps:
- Wash thoroughly with soap and water (especially for young children in the diaper region) before swimming.
- Take children on bathroom breaks or check diapers often.
- Remind children not to swallow the water and to avoid getting water in the mouth.
- Do not swim when sick with diarrhea.
Do you shower before jumping in the pool? Do you think it needs to be a requirement at public pools? Who's responsibility is it to prevent the spread of illness -- parents, water park staff, both? Leave your thoughts below.