SOAP SHOWER BEFORE ENTERING POOL
The words on that sign greeted swimmers at the community pool where I spent my childhood summers- and later, when I landed a job as a lifeguard during my teen years.
In fact, lifeguards blew the whistle on anyone who entered the pool area from the bathhouse who wasn’t dripping wet already from showering first in the bathhouse.
We didn’t like it much, but it was the rule.
A new study finds that these days, the required shower rule isn’t necessarily top of the list, at least for parents of kids who swim at water parks.
The University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health asked parents of elementary school kids about their perceptions of water park risks and their opinions about basic water park rules.
The sample included families who have taken their children to water parks within the past year.
“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 University of Michigan 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.”
Most parents also may not appreciate their role in preventing recreational water infections, Davis says. While 65 percent of parents feel that preventing Recreational Water Illnesses (RWIs) is a shared responsibility between parents and water park staff, 28 percent of parents feel that water park staff alone is responsible.
Davis, who is also associate professor of public policy at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, says 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.”
In fact, parents perceive the risk of infections from water parks as lower than the risk of drowning, Davis adds. In fact, national data indicate that infections are more common than drowning each year.
Avoid infection at water parks, resorts, or any public swimming area. Here are some tips for parents:
- 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.
Information Recreational Water Illnesses from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention