Part of getting the most out of swimming is having full knowledge of water safety, which includes proper procedures for inclement weather, especially during rain and storms. Rain itself does not necessarily pose a safety threat to swimmers, thunder and lightning can develop quickly and cause a risk. Consult with the lifeguard at your pool or beach before entering the water when it is raining.
Most coastal counties advise people to stay out of the water for 72 hours after it rains. Surfers tend to have the hardest time heeding this advisory because big storms often bring big waves, tempting them to jump in whenever the surf’s up, advisory be damned. Choppy water probably isn’t as enticing, but if you must go out, here’s what you’re risking.
Strong winds can affect the water conditions and currents, especially in oceans. Heavy rain can hamper your visibility of the shoreline, causing you to become disoriented. Additionally, rains can cause bacteria and other harmful matter to be washed into the ocean and waterways; therefore, swimming should be avoided during and for 12 to 24 hours following heavy storms.
Storm water runoff that drains into oceans and lakes often contains high levels of fecal bacteria that can cause gastrointestinal illness. The Environmental Protection Agency’s water quality standard is based on the levels of a bacteria called enterococcus found where people recreate. One study conducted by researchers at the University of California-Irvine found that after it rains, bacteria concentrations at Southern California’s beaches can exceed bathing standards by up to 500 percent. However, researchers noted, riptides often “dilute contaminated surf zone water with cleaner water from offshore,” increasing the area of contaminated water but decreasing the concentration of bacteria enough to meet bathing standards.
Another study recently published by researchers at the same university found that the risk of getting a gastrointestinal illness from surfing after a storm was almost one-third higher than when surfing in dry conditions. A swimmer’s risk was lower, they found, likely because swimmers don’t tend to spend as much time out on the water as surfers.
But an upset stomach isn’t the worst thing that could happen from swimming in water contaminated by polluted runoff. The Lake County News-Sun reported that polluted waters in the Great Lakes can lead to other illnesses including “skin rashes, hepatitis, pinkeye and meningitis.” The bottom line: Suck it up and head to the pool. It’s best to heed that 72-hour advisory, or risk being out of commission for 72 hours or more later on.
Then dose mean it is safe to swim in swimming pool?
The answer is wrong.
Lightning can just as easily strike something connected to the pool, such as a water pipe, as the pool itself, which means that both indoor and outdoor pools should be avoided during a storm that contains thunder and lightning. Return to the pool only when you have not heard any thunder for at least 30 minutes.
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