These are tough times. Not only is there a stressful disease spreading across the globe, but we can’t exactly congregate in hordes to commiserate our feelings about it. Humans are social creatures, and unfortunately for us, that’s exactly how this particular virus spreads. In order to keep ourselves safe, it’s important to keep distance. But do we have to socially distance even in our own pools?
Well, yes and no. I’ll explain what social distancing entails, why it’s necessary, why swimming is also especially healthy these days, and how to properly socially distance both in and out of the pool. And since there is so much nasty misinformation floating out there, I’ll be sourcing the national authority on health, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), for every fact. This is a matter of safety, so let’s get right to it.
What’s Social Distancing, According to the Experts?
You’re sure to have seen the phrase “social distance” posted just about everywhere in public spaces. Plus, you’ve probably seen at least a dozen interpretations of what six feet means—two grocery carts, two arms’ lengths, a certain number of products lined up. But social distancing requires a little more than just this magic number between yourself and others in both indoor and outdoor spaces.
According to the CDC, “Social distancing should be practiced in combination with other everyday preventive actions to reduce the spread of COVID-19, including wearing masks, avoiding touching your face with unwashed hands, and frequently washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.”
They also recommend to stay out of crowded places if possible, since it might be difficult to maintain a safe distance. And if someone in your household has or thinks they have COVID-19, it’s recommended that you both wear masks and stay six feet away from them in the house.
Looking to extend the swim season as much as you can, so that you can safely get out and have fun? A heat pump is the answer for you—but you’ll want a powerful unit that will save you on your energy bill every month, like the Energy-Saving ComforTemp Pool Heat Pump 95,000 BTU to heat 18,000 Gallons. According to customer Steve, “Simple install and simple set up. Heated my pool from 66 to 82 degrees in about 2 complete days.”
Why Should We Social Distance, Anyway?
Well, let’s remind ourselves that although it might be tempting to downplay the disease—it might be a novel virus, but it doesn’t feel all that new anymore—COVID-19 can potentially be fatal. People who contract the disease COVID-19 (officially named SARS-CoV-2) usually have a fever, a dry cough, and shortness of breath. However, if someone with COVID-19 has difficulty breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, confusion or the inability to arouse, and bluish lips or face, they might not be getting enough oxygen. If someone is displaying these symptoms, it’s imperative that they go to the hospital immediately. (CDC).
We all know that we don’t want this virus, and that it’s our civic duty to prevent its spread as much as possible. Social distancing guidelines were designed to slow the spread of the virus and help keep us all safe. This is because COVID-19 spreads mainly among people who are in close contact for a prolonged period. Spread happens when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks, and droplets from their mouth or nose are launched into the air and land in the mouths or noses of people nearby. The droplets can also be inhaled into the lungs—this is all according to the CDC.
If everyone who contracted the virus got sick immediately after exposure, and in the same way, it would be clear who had the virus or not. But it’s been researched that many people with COVID-19 are infectious even when they display no symptoms. Plus, people who do experience symptoms can spread the virus before those symptoms start to show.
That doesn’t mean that if you have COVID-19 or think you might have COVID-19, you just have to stand six feet away from others and wear a mask. Social distancing only goes so far. If you suspect you have the virus, it’s recommended that you stay home and away from other people.
While not thought to be the main way the virus spreads, it may be possibly that a person can get the virus by touching a surface that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or eyes—especially since COVID-19 can live for hours or days on a surface, depending on factors such as sunlight, humidity, and the type of surface. Social distancing helps limit opportunities to come into contact with contaminated surfaces, too (CDC).
I get it. Social distancing is far from fun—even though it does give us an ironclad excuse for that friend that always seems to be coming around. At the end of the day, nobody here wants a virus spreading across the globe. We’d much rather be able to spend stress-free time with the people we love. But you can do just that, and better yet: you can relax with your loved ones safely. This is where your pool comes in.
Want to Go for a Swim? I Don’t Blame You
According to the CDC, physical activity is essential, and “it’s possible—and important—to be physically active while social distancing.” In fact, it’s always important to get the right amount of exercise every week, isolation or not. And it has a ton of benefits that might also be helpful during a global pandemic. According to the CDC again, “Physical activity reduces blood pressure and anxiety and helps you sleep better. It can also help to improve mood and energy level” (CDC).
So we know that recreation, including swimming, is important for our moods, energy, and all the anxiety that might come along with a global pandemic at our door. But how can we do it in a way that is safe?
COVID-19 Can Linger on Surfaces, But Not In Your Pool Water
We’re all used to being careful just about anywhere we are. But your own residential pool couldn’t be more safe, thanks to the sanitizing powers of chlorine and the fact that you’re swimming with your household, and only your household.
In other cases, swimming does present some risk for transmitting COVID-19, such as at the beach, in public pools, in water play areas, and in small inflatable and plastic pools. (This is usually because of interactions out of the water, not in them.) But residential pools have no risk of transmitting COVID-19, as long as you’re swimming with your own household. So let’s break down what social distancing means both inside and outside of your pool water.
Keep your sanitizer working at its highest capacity by switching to a powerful automatic cleaner that works on its own to keep your pool sparkling clean, like the Blue Torrent MyBot Inground Robotic Cleaner, which works powerfully on its own to keep your walls and floor sparkling clean. As customer David Lain says, “Very pleased. My wife loves it.”
Social Distancing—While in the Water
While it has been documented that some viruses can survive and spread in water, the CDC advises that there is no evidence that COVID-19 can be spread to humans through the use of recreational waters—but as always, it is strongly recommended that your chlorine level remains above at least 1 ppm in pools, and 3 ppm in hot tubs and spas. This level of sanitizer has been proven to wipe out harmful bacteria, so that your pool water stays safe for yourself and others. Even if this particular virus can spread through water—there’s still so much we don’t know, so it’s always better to err on the side of caution—it’ll be wiped right out by those recommended chlorine levels.
But this is where it gets tricky. Because if we were like another species that breathes water, we might be able to have guaranteed safety in our sanitized pools. And we do, as long as we’re staying with the same people we live with. But unfortunately for this pandemic, the way humans swim involve a lot of heavy breathing—and unlike the water, air cannot be sanitized. So if you are with someone outside your household, you could have a higher risk of contracting the virus—especially since it can be tough to keep six feet apart in the pool.
It’s just the way it is: the safest way to swim during this pandemic is with members of your own household. I hate to say it, but it’s just not the time for massive pool parties (remember, part of the social distancing guidelines including avoiding crowds). And since swimming with a mask on doesn’t make sense—in fact, the CDC says you should never wear a cloth mask while in the water—it’s probably best to put a pause on hosting guests while the virus is still spreading.
Social Distancing—Outside of the Water
You probably guessed this one. If you do have guests over, it’s important to socially distance even while outside, including the use of masks. And don’t forget to sanitize those surfaces before and after the interaction—the CDC recommends cleaning and then disinfecting using an EPA-approved household disinfectant. Just make sure that whatever product you use was intended for that particular surface.
What If Someone Might Have COVID-19?
If someone in your household has or suspects they have COVID-19, it’s not the time for a family-wide swim. Why not? First of all, remember that respiratory droplets can likely pass from person to person above water. If your family member has or thinks they might have COVID-19, they could pass it on to you or anyone else—through the air, not pool water (CDC).
To keep your circulation system in top shape, you’ll need a reliable, powerful, and energy-saving pump like the 2 HP Energy Star Variable Speed In Ground Blue Torrent Cyclone Pump to make sure all your water is sanitized. Plus, it comes with a free warranty, is eligible for rebates, and pays itself off in under a year. According to customer James Robinson, “Great price, quick shipping and delivery. Installed it and turned it on, and it was so quiet that we both reached down to feel if it was vibrating! Simple controls. I’d buy it again.”
Well, we’re all trying to navigate this new reality, and it certainly isn’t always easy. But now that you know the guidelines around social distancing in your pool, you’re all the more prepared to make the decisions that will keep you and your family safe. And the best part? You can safely use your own pool to relax during these seriously trying times. Don’t forget to enjoy—especially during stressful times. Be safe, and take care.