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Just When You Thought It Was Safe to Go Back In the Water

Scott Vogel

For all those parents who made me stand idly by the pool for hours this past summer, staring longingly into placid yet befouled waters, I have four words for you: Swim diapers aren't enough. My 7-year-old and I hit them all this past summer, from the coolest waterparks to the lowliest public pools, and there was one thing you could always count on: a parent who had been under the mistaken impression that swim diapers relieved them of the responsibility of frequent diaper changing.

Overconfidence in this realm is not new, of course, but am I the only one who thinks that toilet-related accidents -- and the pools they close -- are on the rise? It certainly feels that way, and while I'm grateful for the eagle-eyed lifeguards trained to spot poop at a hundred paces, I don't envy the poor teen assigned to toxic waste duty. And I don't envy my fellow parents either, most of whom are forced to scramble, inventing ridiculous poolside games to pacify frustrated children while waters are cleared and contamination levels tested.

At this juncture, it seems prudent to remember what the U.S. Centers for Disease Control says about young children and the prevention of RWIs (recreational water illnesses). "Even though diapers or swim pants may hold in some feces, they are not leak proof and can still contaminate the pool water," says an article on the CDC Web site. And these protectives are worthless if your child has diarrhea.

In addition to common sense recommendations like never taking a child with diarrhea to a pool, the site offers lots of information I wish more parents knew. For instance, children's diapers should never be changed poolside or, for that matter, on lounge chairs or picnic tables nearby. (It's not about modesty, folks, but the spread of germs.) And regular trips to the restroom should be encouraged regardless of your child's age.

If you need further encouragement, keep in mind that while chlorine kills most germs that can potentially sicken your fellow pool-goers, it can take up to an hour to do so. And it doesn't take many of the millions of germs released in one diarrhea accident to make children sick. They need only swallow a few.

This public service announcement brought to you by the National Organization of Parents Opposed to Obnoxious Pool Sense (NOPOOPS).

Anyone else see flagrant violations of proper swim behavior this summer?

By Scott Vogel |  September 26, 2007; 9:28 AM ET  | Category:  Scott Vogel
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No Sh*t!
Me happy to say, no sh*t in pool, not in bay, nor in oceans, no where.
And hope it stays that way...
Not sure which is worse, the high fecal counts that were prevelant along the NJ, DE, MD, VA shores several years ago, or a poop-y pool. Kinda breaks the summer time mood.

Posted by: me | September 26, 2007 4:06 PM

If there is visible poop in the water you can assured that there are many more children with poop in the their swim diapers. The same water you are swimming in has filtered in and out of those diapers. Believe me it is NOT filtered of bacteria. YUCK!

Posted by: educated mom | September 26, 2007 4:51 PM

Ask someone in Utah what can happen when bad hygiene reigns supreme at pools and waterparks. The answer is a parasite outbreak that closes some pools over Labor Day weekend and restricts children under the age of 5 from the pools for about 1 month.

Posted by: slc dad | September 27, 2007 1:33 PM

If you properly clorinate a pool, bacteria will be killed off in a week after the diaper monster took his swim.

Posted by: Rick | September 29, 2007 5:55 PM

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