This article is a travel topic
Swimming can be quite an enjoyable activity while traveling. Many hotels and motels have pools for the enjoyment of their guests, and beaches are a most popular reason for traveling. Swimming is a lot of fun for all ages. But it is not free of danger.
Pool or no pool?
This is a question you may ask when deciding where to stay. To answer this question, here are some more questions to ask yourself:
Dressing for the pool/beach
Besides meeting practical needs, swimming apparel has become an object of fashion. Swimwear for men and women alike comes in numerous styles. But at a practical point of view, different types of swimwear meet swimmers of different needs. Garments have been constructed for a variety of purposes, including play, relaxation, sun bathing, wading, exercise, diving, surfing, competitive swimming, and much much more.
Research to determine what best meets your needs based on the activities you like best.
The skills to swim and at the very minimum to survive are important if you wish to get into the water. Anyone can learn how to swim, provided they are not afraid. The basic principle of swimming, staying afloat, and moving around in the water is simple: displacing water with one's limbs, thereby propelling the body.
As we are having fun enjoying the water, it is easy to forget that water can be dangerous. Water can kill. We must remember to respect the water and follow basic safety guidelines.
Many pools and beaches have lifeguards. Then again, many don't. Swimming without a lifeguard can be risky. Lifeguards are specially trained in CPR, first aid, and to help one in trouble out of the water. Other people may have these skills as well. In the absence of a lifeguard, it is essential that you know the emergency number for the country you are in, the location of the nearest phone (mobile phones may not work in all places), and other ways to get help.
Regardless, if there is a lifeguard, we cannot take the presence of one for granted. Lifeguards are only human, and while they may try their best to save lives, they are not magic. Sometimes, disaster can strike so fast, a lifeguard is helpless to do anything. Besides, not all lifeguards are equal, and not all are perfectly responsible people. Many are adolescents, not all of who are mature, and with the job being generally uneventful, it is easy for them to let their guard down.
Never swim alone. It is best if you go to the pool or beach with another person, preferably a responsible adult, one who will keep an eye out for you at all times. Do not take the presence of strangers for granted either. If you come to a pool or beach alone, try being friendly with some strangers (safe looking ones), and act like you are interested in knowing them. This way, they are more likely to notice you if you are in trouble.
Beaches can be a lot of fun. But they can be very dangerous. This is especially true about the ocean. It is a lot of fun to swim in an ocean full of waves. But the waves can also pose a lot of hazards.
If you are sucked in by a riptide current, do not try to fight the current. This will not help. Many drownings occur the way. Swim sideways, parallel to the shore line, to free yourself from the current.
When swimming in the natural waters, you are not alone. You will be accompanied by many different kinds of creatures, which most of you will not see. Most of them will not bother you either. But there are a few you should be aware of.
The number of people killed worldwide by sharks in a typical year is a single digit. Nevertheless, sharks are well known in pop culture as the killers of the sea. Even with their death toll being so low, no one wants to be one of those unlucky few to meet their end in one's jaws. Contrary to what one may think, sharks are commonly found in under 5 feet of water, near the shore line.
A greater danger in the sea are jellyfish. There are many species of jellyfish, some of which are toxic when they sting. The visibility of jellyfish is low. Unlike sharks, the death toll from jellyfish is far higher, estimated to be over 100 annually worldwide.
Certain species of common fish can be quite aggressive. An example is the barracuda. It can bite, and a bite from a barracuda, if not treated, can be deadly.
Many places have signs prohibiting or restricting swimming. It is of utmost importance that you respect and obey these signs.
If there is a no swimming sign, take it seriously. It is not there to annoy you. It is there to protect you from harm.
No swimming signs are often put in places where swimming is tempting, but where deaths have occurred previously as a result of swimming or where it is believed they can occur. If a death occurs once somewhere, it can just as easily happen again.
Don't think "it is okay for me because I'm a really good swimmer." Some things simply are humanly impossible. It is impossible for the human body to fly. Likewise, it is impossible for the human body to survive in certain waters throughout the world.
In many places, there are laws exempting rescuers from entering dangerous bodies of water to rescue people who entered them in violation of no swimming signs.
Some people take pleasure in diving. Diving boards can be found at some pools, though they are less common now due to safety concerns, fear of lawsuit by pool operators, and legal regulations.
Diving has serious dangers. Since the diver rapidly descends into the water, there is a risk of head of spinal cord injuries, which can result in death or permanently debilitating injuries. For this reason, no one should dive without proper training.
Diving should not be done in water less than 8 feet/2½ meters in depth, and preferable deeper.
If there is a no diving sign, even if the water meets the depth requirements, take it seriously.
It is important to practice good sanitation in the water.
There is chlorine in most pools. It is there with the intent of killing germs that could harm people. It is a plus. But it is not a perfect killer of germs. It is only there to reduce the likelihood of germ spread. But it is not a sterilizer either. While the water of a shared pool may be bright and pretty, and is a very tempting place to immerse oneself on a hot day, it is really not any cleaner than used bathwater.
Not all swimmers practice good hygiene. The pool only looks clean because those maintaining it work hard to make it look attractive. Reality is, many and sometimes the majority of swimmers are underbathed and have traces of urine, feces, sweat, and other filthy substances that seep into the water. Additionally, many people, especially small children, the elderly, and the careless, tend to urinate in the water, and there is no way to detect this. Never swim in a shared pool if you have had any of the following symptoms in the past two weeks unless you can ascertain with absolute certainty that it is not the result of a virus, bacterial, or fungal infection:
Symptoms like these that are not medically induced are frequently caused by some type of virus, bacterial, or fungal infection that is often contagious to others. You may not realize it if you feel okay otherwise. Even after symptoms have ended, one may remain contagious for a significant period of time thereafter. With health of different people varying, such an illness that may be a footnote in one person may be life-threatening in others. Pool water is an easy way to transmit such illness to others.
Always brush your teeth between eating and entering the pool. Carry a toothbrush and toothpaste with you to the facility if need be. Teeth can carry germs, which can enter water and be spread to others, especially if you immerse your head.
Always shower immediately before entering the pool. The shower should be at least 5 minutes long, and involve covering the entire body with soap. It should not be half-hearted. Such a shower must be taken using the pool's shower facilities, even if you just took a shower at home. If you did not take a shower at home, your shower at the facility should take at least 10 minutes to complete. You should give extra care to cleaning your hair, all facial and body hair, all openings to your body, and the surroundings. Even body parts that seem clean should be washed.
Always shower immediately after using the pool as well. The shower should be at least 10 minutes long, and involve covering the entire body with soap. It should not be half-hearted. Though you may feel "clean" after being in the pool's water, you are probably dirtier than you are after 24 hours of not having showered at home or entered a pool.
Always wash your bathing suit in the laundry with detergent after each use. While your bathing suit may seem clean after spending time in the pool, it really contains much more bacteria than if you spend a comparable amount of time with it in the mud! If you do not have access to a machine washer, you should soak your suit in soapy water for at least 30 minutes, rub the suit continually within that water, soak it in fresh water for another half hour, wring out the excess water, and hang it to dry before using it again. After using your hands for this purpose, you should wash them thoroughly too. If you swim frequently and cannot finish up the wash of one bathing suit before your next swim, you should pack multiple bathing suits on your trip.
Always wash your hands with soap water thoroughly before eating or handling any food or beverage with your bare hands. Your hands may seem clean after spending time in the pool water. But they may contain more bacteria than if you dipped them in an unflushed toilet! When you wash you hands, you should use soap water, scrubbing every part of your hands thoroughly for a minute or longer and cleaning inside your fingernails as well. Do not depend on hand sanitizer to serve the same purpose. It does not kill E. coli bacteria, the most common germ from the rectal tract, which is found in great numbers in any shared pool.
Out of the water
Now you know there are some issues to be aware of with the water. But there are other hazards found outside of the water in the vicinity of the pool or beach.
Daylight is provided by the sun. The sun is not a bad thing. Without the sun, the survival of all life would not be possible.
But the sun can still be dangerous. In fact, it can be deadly.
Sunburn affects many people, and anyone has the potential to suffer from sunburn, though some people are more sensitive than others. Sunburn can affect people of all races and tones. For the most sensitive, a sunburn can occur in under a minute.
Sunburn is an extremely painful injury. All too often, one does not realize they are getting sunburned when it is happening. Only hours later does one feel s/he is in terrible pain.
Sunburn prevention involves the use of a sunblock lotion with an SPF level of at least 45. This is if you must absolutely spend time in the sun. But it is preferable to stay out of the sun or cover yourself up altogether, especially during the sun's peak hours, which vary by location.
The sun is capable of burning all year long in any type of weather. Even if it is cloudy or raining, it is the sun that is making it day as opposed to night, so its rays are shining on earth.
You will eventually recover from a single sunburn, and it is possible to relieve the symptoms while they are present. But repeated sunburns can have long term consequences. The same is true for sun tanning, a popular activity that is, according to some studies, more dangerous than smoking! The long term consequence of excessive sun tans or burns could melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer.
Lightning is another natural hazard. Lightning can strike with little or no warning. Being outdoors during lightning can be deadly.
The key is thunder. If there is any thunder, it is not safe to be in the pool. It is unsafe even to be in an indoor pool when there is a threat of lightning. For at least 30 minutes following thunder, all waters should be avoided.