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Many of us are still traveling and the question is raised...

Should you swim the hotel pool or spa? 

In this blog we will share our recent experiences with hotel pools and spas and what to look for when traveling to make the best educated decision on whether or not you should swim.

It's One Thing To Maintain Your Pool and Spa

Even though the holidays are over it is still a season of traveling for many of us. If you are like us whenever we are traveling a hot tub is a must have at any hotel we stay at, and a continental breakfast. It's one thing to maintain your pool and spa but what happens when you are on vacation or traveling and the pool or spa is questionable and when you aren't sure if they are clean or safe to swim in? You may wonder, is there such thing as a pool or spa that is unsafe to swim in?

When you swim in a pool or spa many things transfer from your skin into the water including but not limited to your hair care products, makeup, deodorant, bodily oils, skin cells, etc. The chemicals that are added to the water are done so to break down all that is transferred into the water through swimming. If there is not enough chemicals or the chemicals are out of balance bacteria can form in the water and can cause health issues. Some of these issues may be minor like skin breakouts and others can be more severe. We share this information as this is something we recently experienced over our holiday travel and felt guided to share our knowledge so others can make the best educated decisions on whether or not to use a hotel pool or spa.

To Swim or Not To Swim?

Our family decided in 2019 that we were going to do a family ski and snowboard trip for the holidays. After a long day of skiing and snowboarding, our bodies were tired and overworked and some of us sore, we were all ready for a dip in the hot tub. Walking to the pool area we all already felt our eyes burning before we even made it into the pool room, that's already not a good sign but we were not going to pass up the ability to relax in the tub at the end of a long day on the slopes.

The next day several of us noticed our skin breaking out in odd spots such as the arms and stomach but also on the chest, back, and shoulders as well.

Skin breakouts after swimming can be indicative that the pool/spa needs to be cleaned and sanitized. Skin breakouts in odd spots such as the arms and stomach but also on the chest, back, and shoulders as well can happen when there isn't proper sanitizer levels in the spa to destroy the bacteria that can accumulate in the water.

How can you tell a pool or spa is dirty?

  1. That chlorine like smell in the air isn't due to chlorine. That smell is from the chloramines in the water. Chloramines are the bi-product of used up sanitizer and indicates the hotel spa or pool needs to be oxidized (shocked).
  2. Excessive foam (indicates chemicals are out of balance and filter is dirty)
  3. Burning or itchy eyes (indicates chemical imbalance)
  4. Water is cloudy or hazy or not clear (indicates sanitizer level is not effective)
  5. Greasy sediment forming at the water line (indicates the filter isn't filtering the water effectively)

How to apply this knowledge

This knowledge can be applied to when traveling and using public swimming facilities as well as to your own pool and spa at home.

In a spa the water should be dumped every three months due to the total dissolved solids that can accumulate in such a small body of water. If the tub is excessively foaming and smells bad and it is nearing the three month mark these signs can be indicative that it is time to dump the water from the tub. The water may even need to be dumped before the three month mark if the tub is used very frequently. If the water is not dumped and chemicals are unbalanced or at ineffective levels the water can become contaminated with bacteria that can put you at risk.

Contamination of spa water is unsafe for a number of reasons:

  • The water in spas is typically heated to a temperature that is perfect for the bacteria to grow and multiply. The ideal temperature range for such growth is between 20°C and 45°C (68°F and 113°F)
  • Contaminants including dead skin cells and dirt from the people using spa pools provide an excellent food for the bacteria, aiding their growth.
  • The fact that the water in a spa is often vigorously aerated results in aerosols and sprays containing water droplets being formed and becoming airborne, from which bacteria can be inhaled causing respiratory issues.

Respiratory issues are on the rise from untreated water

We do not share this to scare you, but there has been a huge outbreak of respiratory issues in public swimming facilities including hotel pools and spas due to untreated water. Swimming in untreated water can be unsafe an lead to health issues.

Young children and the elderly are most at risk for infection and respiratory complications from untreated water.

Don't let this push you away from using public swimming facilities. We share this knowledge with the intention of providing awareness of what to look for and to know the signs of untreated water so you can make the best educated decision on whether or not you use the public swimming amenities and what to do if they are unsafe or unsanitary to use.

Don't let your vacation be ruined because the pool or spa is in questionable condition. If you are concerned for the safety of the water of the pool or spa at a hotel we recommend these tips to have the situation addressed.

  • Politely confront the staff and ask if the pool or spa has been serviced recently as you are noticing odor, skin irritation, etc. and you are concerned of the safety of the water and would like to see those issues addressed before using the amenities.
  • If the staff is not going to address the issues brought to their attention we recommend airing on the side of not using the amenities for you and your family's safety.

The choice is always yours on whether or not you choose to swim in questionable water. We hope that with this knowledge you can make the best decision for you and your family if you ever end up in a similar situation.