Published on July 09, 2020

Summer Swim Safety during COVID-19

little boy in pool float smiling with family behind him

Hot summer heat can only mean one thing - swimming! Is it safe for your child during this pandemic?

Advice from the Physicians at Sturdy Pediatric Associates

After what has felt like a very long spring, summer is finally here! The last few months of new routines, virtual learning and social distancing have left many exhausted, stir crazy and eager for something fun to do. Swimming is one great source of summer entertainment and exercise but many parents wonder whether it is still safe for their children to go swimming during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The good news, according to the CDC, is that this is no evidence that Covid-19 can spread through the water in pools, hot tubs and splash pads as long as they are properly operated and disinfected. Many things in our world have changed this year but swimming remains a fun, healthy way to stay active and get the kids out of the house this summer. Here are a few guidelines to follow to keep your family's risk of coronavirus exposure low:

  • It is still important to limit your close contact with people outside of your home and to maintain at least 6 feet of physical distancing, both in and out of the water.
  • Face coverings should be worn when outside of the water. It is not safe to wear face coverings while in the water.
  • Good hand hygiene, as always, is critical
  • Avoid using any items that are shared with others outside of your home, such as goggles, pool toys and food.
  • As with all gatherings, an outdoor location is much lower risk than an indoor pool because aerosols are diluted rapidly outside. If the pool you have access to is indoors, check that the location is well ventilated.

As always, general swim safety is very important. In the United States, drowning is the leading cause of injury related death in children ages 1-4 and the third leading cause among those ages 5-19. Here are some general swimming safety tips:

  • Establish "pool rules" with your children before anyone enters the water. Some important rules are no running on the pool deck and no diving into water less than 8 feet deep.
  • Identify an adult who will be on "pool patrol". This person should be able to swim, provide basic first aid/CPR and not leave the pool side for any reason. Drowning occurs quickly and quietly so it is essential that the pool watcher is free of distractions - no phone, adult beverages, books or playing cards.
  • If your child is not a strong swimmer, she should wear a well fitted life vest and always be within touch of an adult. "Floaties" are unreliable and can provide a false sense of safety. Also take care with toddlers in "leg in" floats. A top heavy child can easily flip over in these devices and be trapped below the water.
  • Do not swim outdoors during rain or an electrical storm
  • Don't forget to wear sunscreen - at least SPF 15 and reapply often!

So now that summer is here, get out of the house, get some exercise and enjoy the water - but please remember to be safe!