Let’s face it: this is an unbalanced time. Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic has swept the globe, we’ve had to give up the bulk of our social lives. And while technology is pretty great, and the only way that’s guaranteed to be safe, it’s just not the same as face-to-face interaction. It makes sense that some pool owners would want to invite guests over to their pool—but unfortunately, hosting guest swimmers isn’t sure to be a safe move.
So why isn’t inviting guests over to your pool the safest way to socialize during the pandemic? While water isn’t believed to carry the COVID-19 virus, it’s difficult to stay socially distanced in a pool, and wearing a mask is absolutely not recommended while in the water. However, if hosting is a calculated risk you’re going to take, it’s best to do it in a way that is as safe as possible. I’ll explain some essential details about the COVID-19 virus, why social distancing applies here, and the dos and don’ts of hosting guests during this pandemic.
Let’s Clarify COVID-19—With the Help of Trusted Sources
COVID-19 isn’t just a hot topic—it’s determined our daily lives. But let’s revisit the basics briefly to clear up any misinformation you might’ve heard at the last socially-distanced hang. I’ll be sourcing the national health authority, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), for every fact.
What’s COVID-19 Again?
Chances are that we’ve all had a coronavirus before—some are called the common cold. Although you might hear COVID-19 referred to as “the coronavirus,” it’s just one of many of this virus type. So why has this one in particular paused the world as we know it? That’s because this COVID-19 virus is novel, meaning that it hasn’t been previously identified—which also means we have no resistance to it. It also spreads at a fairly high rate. (Source: CDC).
What are the Symptoms to Look Out For?
Let’s talk symptoms. 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 you know is experiencing these symptoms, it’s imperative that they go to the hospital immediately. (Source: CDC).
Of course, the symptoms of COVID-19 range from mild to severe, but we don’t want to take our chances—or unknowingly spread the virus to those who are more likely to experience severe symptoms. So let’s check in on how this virus spreads in the first place.
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How COVID-19 Spreads—Through Air, Not Water
I have great news: the CDC reports that there is currently no evidence that COVID-19 can transmit through water. This is huge, because in the past water-borne illnesses have been very much a thing. Thankfully, this virus is not believed to behave that way.
So how does COVID-19 spread, if not in your pool? This is where misinformation really gets wild out there. Let’s turn back to our trusted sources: according to CDC, the virus is primarily 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. In some cases, these droplets remain in the air after the infected person has left.
- 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.
Unfortunately, although COVID-19 isn’t believed to be able to spread in your water, it’s a major threat in the air. So let’s talk about social distancing.
Social Distancing in Your Pool
If you’re left your house at any point since last March, you’ve probably been told to maintain six feet of distance. But social distancing requires a little more than just this magic number between yourself and others in 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.”
Here’s why swimming with those out of your household is a risky move. The CDC also recommends to stay out of crowded places if possible, since it might be difficult to maintain a safe distance. A swimming pool presents the same kind of problem, especially with kids: it can be harder to keep six feet apart when the fun really gets going.
But since social distancing is such a headache, why do it around your pool all? A few different reasons, which go beyond the fact that if you might experience a whole lot more than a headache if contract COVID-19. 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. Without social distancing, the virus would spread even wider than it already has.
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.”
Guests in Your Pool? Hosting Dos and Don'ts
Social distancing can be tricky when it comes to pools, just because of the active nature of swimmers. But with certain precautions, it can be a calculated risk that you take. And although there are some public and club swimming pools open during this pandemic, you’re much better off swimming at home, with as few guests as possible.
If it’s a risk you’re willing to take, follow these few guidelines to keep your hosting as safe as possible—given the circumstances. It is what it is.
Don’t: Get Close
Remember, swimming usually involves a lot of heavy breathing. Although the virus isn’t believed to be contracted through water, it can still move through the air. It’s never recommended that you wear a mask in water, so you want to keep as much space as possible between yourself and others. This means keeping your guest count really, really low—the fewer people you’re hosting, the better. And whenever anyone is out of the water, they should be wearing a mask.
The CDC doesn’t have reason to believe COVID-19 can exist and transmit in water, but it’s always a good idea to keep your pool properly sanitized—there’s other potentially harmful bacteria that could make you sick, and nobody wants to be sick when our healthcare system is overloaded. The ideal chlorine combination of your pool should be between 1 and 3 parts per million (ppm). In order to kill any pathogenic viruses, you’ll want to make sure your chlorine concentration doesn’t fall below 1 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.
Don’t: Share Pool Toys
We were all taught at a young age to share what we have, right? In fact, we might even have already passed on that knowledge to the next generation. But that was before a global pandemic. It’s best to not share floaties, noodles, or any other kind of pool toys—and if you have kids, make sure that they’re filled in to this change of the rulebook.
Do: Cleaning, Cleaning, Cleaning
Hey, I get it. It’s tempting to stay on top of your sanitizer and consider the job well done. But when leaves, twigs, and other debris fall into your pool, your chorine gears up to attack it just like it would any microscopic bacteria—and unlike that teeny tiny bacteria, chlorine is no match for a leaf. Eventually, your chlorine will literally die trying—and not have any sanitizing juice for the pathogenic bacteria in your pool that actually need blasting.
Whether there’s a pandemic or not, it’s never enough to simply add sanitizer to your pool. You should maintain your cleaning routine as usual: skimming your pool water and cleaning your skimmer basket once a day, brushing your pool’s walls and floors every few days, and vacuuming your pool every week.
Don’t: Forget Those Surfaces
Sure, touching surfaces might not be the main way the CDC believes COVID-19 is spread—but it is still considered a possibility. Before and after any socially-distanced gatherings are good times to wipe down any communal furniture and pool accessories.
When you do wipe down these surfaces, make sure that you have a product that both cleans and disinfects, meaning it was formulated to kill germs. The CDC recommends an EPA-registered cleaner and/or disinfectant, and one that was intended for that particular surface. If you’re cleaning your metal pool rails, for instance, make sure that cleaner was intended for metal.
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.”
Have Fun—But Keep It Safe!
Hey, we’re all just trying to get through this pandemic. But when it comes to connecting with others, it’s best to do it in a way that is safe—and continue to find healthy connection for years to come, after this pandemic declines. It’s okay if you feel that this isn’t the time for hosting at all. But no matter what your threshold of calculated risk, it’s important to take time to relax. The end to all this is in sight—for now, remember to enjoy.