You’re Not the Only One Enjoying Summer
Moisture happily welcomes bacteria. Therefore, that damp towel from your latest trip to the beach could be home to more than an extra grain of sand. Find out which summer staples are a breeding ground for some very unwelcome guests and what you can do to protect yourself.
Summer fun isn’t the same without ample time poolside. Pools can also be home to urine, bacteria and several types of dangerous parasites. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the average swimmer contributes at least 0.14 grams of fecal matter to pool water upon entering. Albeit gross, taking the proper precautions can allow you to still enjoy a dip. Prior to entering, rinse off using a public shower if possible. Make sure you or your little ones don’t swallow the water, and make sure you wash your hands afterwards, which is your first line of defense to protecting yourself against germs
Fresh water isn’t immune to its own breadth of contaminants either. After a day of swimming at the beach, pool or lake, be sure to rinse your goggles with tap water. This helps removes any chemicals or bacteria. Carefully use dish soap with your fingers, as cleaning products may scratch the lenses. Also wash the rubber area that touches your skin. Allow to completely dry before storing away.
Sand can harbor more fecal matter than the water itself — in addition to many other germs and pathogens. To properly wash towels, first allow them to completely air dry. Try to remove as much sand as possible before laundering. For lingering grains, you can use a hand-held vacuum or soak in warm, soapy water once returning home. Since most towels are cotton, using hot water will help provide maximum cleanliness. Use the same process every time the towel gets wet to help keep bacteria away.
There’s no easy way to say this: Your sandbox is disgusting. Studies have shown sandboxes are crawling with bacteria and parasites, including Clostridium difficile (C. difficille). Allow sand to properly dry before covering it. Frequently remove clumps or debris from the sand. When your little one is done playing, make sure they wash their hands immediately.
One pair of these footwear favorites tested in a study was found to harbor more than 18,000 bacteria. Consider reserving your flip-flops for poolside and remove them upon entering your home. To wash them, simply place them into a bucket with warm, soapy water. Use a scrub brush to clean the surface.
The truth is, germs are all around us. Enjoy your fun in the sun, but take proper precautions to protect yourself and clean items after use. Get more sun safety tips and summertime family fun ideas here.
- Michael P. Angarone, DO, Northwestern Medical Group, Infectious Disease
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