Are Swimming Pools Safe For Children During the COVID-19 Outbreak?

a boy jumps into a public swimming pool

Dangerous myths are spreading about what is safe and what isn’t when it comes to avoiding COVID-19. One of those myths involves sunlight killing the virus, and how that in combination with chlorine in swimming pools will help keep children safe this Summer.

However, don’t hold your breath. A doctor is warning that there are precautions that parents must take to ensure their child’s safety when swimming is involved.

Disinformation Spreading About Sunlight’s Ability to Protect People from COVID-19

One of the most dangerous myths about preventing yourself from contracting COVID-19 is the idea that being out in sunlight can protect you. The WHO says that the virus can be transmitted everywhere. This includes countries known for hot and humid weather. For example in Saudi Arabia, the desert sun can get hotter than 122°F. However, more than 21,000 cases of the virus have been reported, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Dr. Leong Hoe Nam, an infectious disease specialist from Mouth Elizabeth Novena Hospital, wrote an email to CNBC. He noted that while extreme heat can kill the virus, that degree of heat would also kill a person. Nam said that it would take 90°C of heat for 15 minutes to effectively kill the virus, but said no human could survive that kind of intensity.

Swimming Pool Safety for Children During the Coronavirus Pandemic

As some pools start to reopen amid the ongoing pandemic, they are trying to keep children’s safety in mind. UAB Dr. Ellen Eaton says that swimming can be safe if you take proper precautions. However, that might be harder than it sounds when it comes to small children.

“If the pool is maintained with chlorine or bromide and managed,” there is a very very low chance of getting coronavirus through the water,” said Dr. Eaton to ABC 33/40. However, she stressed that children should still maintain social distancing.

“Those types of interactions are subject to the same risk of coronavirus transmission. If we are close, if we are gathering, if we are sharing meals, sharing bathrooms without being mindful of hand hygiene,” said Eaton.

This means sunshine and chlorine alone aren’t going to be enough to keep your children safe from coronavirus while swimming. Eaton encouraged parents to keep their children properly separated, even in the water.

“They’re hanging on to each other. They’re hanging on the ladder. They’re playing games. They’re diving for toys. They’re sharing toys. Those are the interactions I worry about with infection being transmitted,” said Eaton.

Eaton also urged safety precautions when outside of the water.

“Try to use the restroom before you go so you’re not relying on that public restroom. Maybe change in your swimsuit before you leave for the pool and put on a cover-up, so you don’t have to touch those doorknobs, those countertops in a changing room or lounge,” she said.

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