Facts and information about the coronavirus pandemic are constantly changing. Visit the CDC site for the most up-to-date information during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Water safety is always a top concern for families during the summer. Not only is drowning the top cause of fatal accidents among kids ages 1-4, but half of the most dangerous toys on the WATCH list are water toys. This year, though, there are some added concerns. Can coronavirus spread at swimming pools or through water play?
Coronavirus cannot live in a properly maintained swimming pool. If you follow normal guidelines for cleanliness and chlorine, your backyard pool will not be a breeding ground for COVID-19.
There are water-borne illnesses that can spread in swimming pools, but COVID-19 is not one of them.
However, swimming pools can be a place for kids to spread coronavirus, because children often play close together and share objects at swimming pools. They use each other’s pool noodles, spit water in one another’s faces, and crowd together for games and conversation.
In the excitement of play, kids are likely to forget social distancing, and masks should not be worn while swimming because they can restrict breathing when they’re wet.
The best solution, if you want to go to a public swimming pool this summer, is to go at the least crowded times of day. Make sure kids use the bathroom before leaving the house, and carry sanitizing wipes for cleaning off shared items.
Pool areas, lounge furniture, and shared surfaces like restroom doorknobs should be disinfected as part of the pool’s upkeep. Ask if you are not sure this is being done.
If you have a choice, use outdoor pools rather than indoor ones, since droplets are more likely to stay in a closed area.
Lakes, rivers, and beaches
Coronavirus is unlikely to survive in large bodies of water. Just as with pools, it’s the behavior around lakes and rivers that should be a concern.
- Avoid gathering with crowds.
- Practice social distancing.
- Wear masks on the beach if social distancing is difficult.
- Kids over age two should wear appropriately-sized masks, too.
- Wash hands frequently.
- Avoid touching your face, and remind kids to do so.
- Cover coughs and sneezes.
Disinfect shared objects and surfaces if this is not being done by staff.
If you’re camping by the water, request a campsite that was not used within the past 24 hours by other campers. Avoid crowded areas and peak times.
There are other kinds of water play, including water balloons, water slides, splash parks, and playing with a garden hose or sprinkler.
None of these activities includes any special coronavirus danger. The Centers for Disease Control point out that splash parks and other kinds of interactive water play often recycle the water through the fountains. It’s important to teach kids not to drink this water.
That’s not because of COVID-19, but because of diseases that can live in water.
Drinking from a garden hose or a clear stream is also a bad idea. Water from these sources, however tempting it may look, can be contaminated. Again, this isn’t about coronavirus.
Follow the usual rules for coronavirus safety when playing with backyard water toys and enjoying other water fun. This summer will be different from other summers, but you and your kids can still make happy memories.