Thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, summer will look a lot different this year. So what does that mean for going in the water?
There is some good news: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, no evidence has emerged to suggest that you can contract the coronavirus in pools, hot tubs, water parks or in large bodies of water like at the beach.
That said, some safety measures and health warnings should still be kept in mind before you take a dip. Here’s what you should know:
It’s still unknown if the spread of coronavirus will slow down in the summer
Some experts suspected at the beginning of the pandemic that the coronavirus could dissipate in the warmer months, similar to the flu and other viruses. However, that’s yet to be determined. The CDC states that hotter temperatures ― those above 75 degrees ― do not kill the virus. The disease can also still spread in warmer, humid climates. So don’t use sunbathing at the pool or the beach as an excuse to not practice healthy habits or follow pandemic guidelines.
You should still maintain 6 feet of distance, both in the water and on land
Being outside and in the water is not completely risk-free, although it is better than staying in a more confined space. People should still practice safe social distancing when they’re at a pool, the beach, a lake or other recreational areas.
The CDC advises that you should avoid “group events, gatherings, or meetings both in and out of the water if social distancing of at least 6 feet between people who don’t live together cannot be maintained.”
Exceptions to this rule only include emergency evacuations and cases where someone is rescuing a distressed swimmer or providing medical help or first aid.
Washing your hands and cleaning surfaces remain a priority
The CDC advises that public pools should be equipped with plenty of hand soap and sanitizer to make it easy for visitors to maintain proper hygiene. All high-touch surfaces ― like handrails and chairs ― should also be regularly disinfected. If you’re swimming in your own pool or a family pool, you should make sure to wipe those areas down regularly.
Proper water maintenance is also important. The regular amount of chlorine used to treat pools should be enough to inactivate the virus, The Los Angeles Times reported.
Don’t share pool floats, goggles or any other equipment
There’s a chance that the virus can be spread when an infected person ― even those who are asymptomatic ― expels respiratory droplets onto surfaces and then someone else touches the same surface. (Although how easily the virus can spread when touching surfaces has been called into question recently, it’s better to assume right now that you could be susceptible to transmission in such a manner.)
It’s best to limit contact where possible, which means you should absolutely not share items like floats, masks, googles, snorkeling equipment, etc. (even with people who are in your own house). Bring or use your own, and be sure to disinfect them regularly.
Face masks are also recommended in certain areas
Pool operators and people who will be in close proximity to others outside of the water are encouraged to wear a mask, according to the CDC. Take it off once you get in the water ― swimming with such a face covering can make it difficult to breathe.
Guidance on COVID-19 and swimming could change as the season progresses
There’s still a lot we don’t know about the coronavirus, and the knowledge that we do have about it changes quickly. As summer goes on, researchers may discover more about how the virus lives and travels. Be sure to continuously check guidance and recommendations from your local health authorities and the CDC.
But, for now, dive on in ― the water’s fine. Just make sure you’re being smart about it first.
Experts are still learning about the novel coronavirus. The information in this story is what was known or available as of press time, but guidance concerning COVID-19 could change as scientists discover more about the virus. Please check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the most updated recommendations.
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