- What is the novel coronavirus and why is it dangerous?
- What are the symptoms of the virus?
- How does the COVID-19 virus transmit?
- Can the COVID-19 virus survive in my pool?
- Can the COVID-19 virus spread through pools and hot tubs?
- How can I properly sanitize my pool water?
- Will all types of chlorine remove the virus?
- How much chlorine do I need for my pool size?
- How do I add chlorine to my pool?
- Do I know a pool or hot tub is clean if it has a chemical smell?
- How do I use chlorine test strips?
- How can I properly sanitize my pool fixtures?
- Are there other ways to keep my pool safe, outside of just sanitizing with chlorine?
- What should I do if someone in my family gets sick with COVID-19?
- Is it safe to swim if my family member has COVID-19?
- While school’s out, how can I help my family stay healthy?
- Are small inflatable and plastic pools safe from the COVID-19 virus?
- Are water play areas and interactive fountains safe from the COVID-19 virus?
- Can I get COVID-19 from my pets or other animals?
- How else can I help protect myself?
It goes without saying that the novel coronavirus is on all our minds—for most Americans, the crisis has considerably altered the motions of our daily life. With so much information circling in our communities, it can be a confusing time. And if you own a pool or hot tub, chances are you have some specific questions about the virus. Find the answers here, where all COVID-19 information comes exclusively from authoritative sources like the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
What is the novel coronavirus and why is it dangerous?
Coronavirus is a category of human illness.
COVID-19 virus is the virus that causes the illness COVID-19.
COVID-19 is the disease caused by this particular virus.
SARS-CoV-2 is the official name of the COVID-19 disease.
This coronavirus is particularly dangerous to humans because it’s novel, meaning that we haven’t previously come into contact with it—which also means there’s no vaccine, and we have no resistance to it. (Source: WHO.)
What are the symptoms of the virus?
People who contract COVID-19 usually have a fever, a dry cough, and shortness of breath—plus, other symptoms reported include common cold symptoms. If someone with COVID-19 also has difficulty breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, confusion or the inability to arouse, and bluish lips or face, chances are they’re not getting enough oxygen. This can be fatal, and it’s imperative that they go to the hospital immediately. (Source: CDC.)
How does the COVID-19 virus transmit?
From what we know now, the virus does spread from person to person. Here’s how:
- When people are in close contact with each other—within about six feet.
- Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. These droplets can land in the mouths and noses of nearby people, or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
- Some recent studies have suggested that COVID-19 may be spread by people who are not showing symptoms.
- Though not considered the main way the virus spreads, it may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their eyes, nose, or mouth. (Source: CDC.)
Can the COVID-19 virus survive in my pool?
No, as long as you chlorinate your pool properly. According to the CDC, “Proper operation, maintenance, and disinfections (e.g., with chlorine and bromine) of pools and hot tubs should remove or inactivate the virus that causes COVID-19.”
In order to keep your pool and hot tub removing or inactivating the COVID-19 virus, you want to be sure:
- You’re running your pool pump for the proper amount of time everyday—generally, this is around eight hours.
- Your pool’s cleaning system is in complete working order, meaning you routinely clean the equipment, unclog accumulated debris, and troubleshoot if your pump goes awry or gets its own high temperature.
- Most importantly: you’re properly sanitizing and disinfecting your pool (Source: CDC.)
Can the COVID-19 virus spread through pools and hot tubs?
No, this coronavirus cannot spread through pools and hot tubs. According to the CDC, “There is no evidence that COVID-19 can be spread to humans through the use of pools and hot tubs.” Again, this all relies on proper operation, maintenance, and disinfection of your pool—especially the use of chlorine.
How can I properly sanitize my pool water?
The ideal chlorine combination of your pool should be between 1 and 3 parts per million (ppm). In order to kill COVID-19 and other pathogenic viruses, you’ll want to make sure your chlorine concentration doesn’t fall below 1 ppm (though the World Health Organization recommends as little as .5 ppm). Go above 3 ppm and while you’re sure to wipe out the virus, you’re also vulnerable to irritation in your eyes, nose, lungs, and throat. (Source: CDC.)
Will all types of chlorine remove the virus?
Yes, all types of chlorine will either kill or inactivate the virus—as long as the proper amount of chlorine is distributed to your pool. (Source: CDC.)
How much chlorine do I need for my pool size?
We recommend chlorine tablets, which come in one-inch and three-inch sizes. For most pools, the three-inch size is recommended, since they are less complicated and cheaper to use—they sanitize a whopping 5,000 gallons per tablet, and you can use fewer of them than you would one-inch tablets.
If you have a spa or a very small pool—in other words, any body of water less than 5,000 gallons—the one-inch tablets are for you. They might also be handy for very, very large pools because of their faster rate of dissolution, but it’ll cost you.
Not sure how many gallons of water your pool contains? It’s simple geometry anyone can do—even if you weren’t exactly a candidate for math camp that year. You just have to multiply the length, width, and depth of your pool in feet, and then multiply that figure by 7.5 to convert the number to gallons. Prefer formulas? Follow the one below:
[Pool Length in Feet] x [Pool Width in Feet] x [Pool Depth in Feet] x 7.5 = [Volume of Your Pool in Gallons]
For the purposes of finding how many tablets your pool needs, round your volume up to the nearest 5,000—so you can be sure you’re not undershooting it. If your pool has a capacity of 25,000 pounds, you’ll want to use five tablets (that’s one tablet for every 5,000 gallons). If only algebra class was always that easy.
How do I add chlorine to my pool?
Unfortunately, it’s not recommended that you drop chlorine into your pool water and call it a day—the point is to circulate the chemicals evenly, and avoid coronavirus-friendly pockets of undertreated water.
Our top recommendation is the pool skimmer. In this case, you can drop in the correct amount of chlorine tablets into your pool skimmer, which looks like a little basket-lined bucket and is built into the side of the pool. Make sure your pool filter is on, and add in the tablets to push beautifully-sanitizing water through your return jets, which will spread chlorine evenly throughout your pool. Since your filter must be on during the process, make a long-term investment that’ll save you significantly. Variable-speed pool pumps like this Energy-Star-certified model have the option of running at a lower speed, and tend to pay themselves off in under two years.
Another option is the automatic chlorinator, which hooks up to your return line to ensure the water is sanitized just before it enters your pool. A favorite of pool maintenance experts, it allows you to load the feeder with tablets in bulk, without worrying about how many. You then set it for a chlorine level of 1 ppm to 3 ppm (remember, that’s the recommended amount as determined by the CDC), and let it do the work.
Do I know a pool or hot tub is clean if it has a chemical smell?
Surprisingly, no. A well-chlorinated pool or hot tub will be odorless. If you smell chemicals—even if you think it might be chlorine—chances are, the pool in question has a maintenance problem. (Source: CDC.)
How do I use chlorine test strips?
Test strips are recommended to make sure that the amount of chlorine you’re using is accurate for your specific variables: your environment, how frequently the pool is used, and the natural water quality of your area.
Most superstores, hardware stores, and pool-supply stores sell pool and hot tub test strips, which are inexpensive and couldn’t be simpler to use. Just dip them in water, swirl them around, and read the results within seconds. Usually the tests are color coded and come with an easy-to-read chart. To ensure accurate results, be sure you’re adhering to the expiration date on the package. (Source: CDC.)
How can I properly sanitize my pool fixtures?
CDC does mention that it may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their eyes, nose, or mouth—though it’s probably not the main way the virus spreads.
Although your pool water is safe if properly chlorinated, you want to make sure to wipe down your pool rails and other dry surfaces that are frequently touched with an EPA-registered household disinfectants—including, and perhaps most importantly, the high-use interiors of your home. (Source: CDC.)
Are there other ways to keep my pool safe, outside of just sanitizing with chlorine?
If you don’t know about pool shock already, now is the time to learn. After a chlorine particle attacks and kills bacteria or another organic material in your wall, it creates what is called a chloramine. This is an inactive particle that exists in your water until it can be broken apart by oxidation. Enter pool shock.
You don’t need to use pool shock as continuously as you do chlorine, but I recommend at least once a week. With pool shock, you can have yet another weapon in your arsenal to wipe out the COVID-19 virus. Just remember to add it at dusk or at night, or the sun will burn out the compound that makes it effective.
What should I do if someone in my family gets sick with COVID-19?
Most people with COVID-19 can recover at home, and according to the CDC, anyone infected should only leave the house to get medical care.
- If possible, use a separate room and bathroom for sick household members.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; going to the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
- Provide your sick household member with clean, disposable face masks to wear at home, if available.
- Clean the sick room and bathroom, as needed, to avoid unnecessary contact with the sick person.
- Avoid sharing personal items such as utensils, food, and drinks.
Anyone with the following emergency signs should go to the hospital immediately:
- Trouble breathing.
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest.
- New confusion or inability to arouse.
- Bluish lips or face.
- Any other symptoms that are severe or concerning.
Is it safe to swim if my family member has COVID-19?
You can go swimming, but if your sick family member should not. Your pool is definitely safe, but it’s no miracle worker. In other words, it’s not going to heal someone of COVID-19. Nobody should swim when they’re fighting a virus—especially in the company of others.
Why not? First of all, note that respiratory droplets can likely pass from person to person above pool water. If your family member has or thinks they might have COVID-19, they could pass it on to you or anyone else in the pool—through the air, not water.
Secondly, anyone who is sick should be resting. It’s as simple as that. This is a serious and sometimes fatal disease, and everyone who has it should be giving their body the strength it needs to fight it off. (Source: CDC.)
While school’s out, how can I help my family stay healthy?
While school is dismissed due to the coronavirus pandemic, it’s important to take extra precautions to ensure your family stays as healthy as possible. These measures include:
- Watch your child for any signs of illness—refer above to the COVID-19 symptoms for this one.
- Watch for signs of stress in your child, such as excessive worry or sadness, unhealthy eating or sleeping habits, and difficulty with attention or concentration.
- Teach and reinforce everyday preventive actions.
- Help your child stay socially connected via phone and video calls, and cards and letters.
- Help your child stay active. This can include dance breaks, stretches, bike rides—or hello, a fun swim in your pool. (Source: CDC.)
Are small inflatable and plastic pools safe from the COVID-19 virus?
No, small inflatable and plastic pools are not considered safe from the COVID-19 virus. These pools are typically filled with tap water—which may be treated with a disinfectant for drinking, but is not equipped to properly kill germs introduced into swimming water. Plus, it may not be practical to add chlorine to these small pools, because they lack a filtration system to clear out particles that prevent chlorine from working at its fullest potential. Because of the small size of inflatable and kid-sized plastic pools and the stagnant nature of the water, it’s also difficult to maintain a consistent chlorine dose, or even determine what the proper dose should be. (Source: CDC.)
Are water play areas and interactive fountains safe from the COVID-19 virus?
Although there is no standing water, water play areas and interactive fountains aren’t guaranteed to be safe against the COVID-19 virus. This is because these systems recycle the water—meaning, contaminants will be rinsed into the water holding areas, and then recirculated out. Because water play areas and interactive fountains are relatively new, health departments may not have specific regulations for their sanitization, and sometimes they’re built without a sanitization system. As a result, water play areas and interactive fountains have been determined to be the source of pathogenic spreading. (Source: CDC.)
Can I get COVID-19 from my pets or other animals?
At this time, no evidence exists that pets or other companion animals can spread the COVID-19 virus to people—though they can get unrelated coronaviruses themselves. As always, it’s important to practice healthy habits around pets and other animals, such as washing your hands and maintaining good hygiene. (Source: CDC.)
How else can I help protect myself?
The best hygienic practices are simple and easy to implement—and chances are, you’ve heard them before. Wash your hands often with water and soap—or a sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol when these aren’t readily available. Don’t touch your face with unwashed hands. Put distance between yourself and others. Cover your mouth and nose with a face cloth when you are around others. Cover your coughs and sneezes. Routinely and consistently clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces. Oh, and if you’re able—stay home!