You may be tempted to take a quick swim in your green, algae-infested pool (see Part 1). Don’t do it! The potential risk of doing so isn’t worth the short term benefit of temporary refreshment.
Algae in the Pool Can Warn You of Bacteria
Some people are surprised to discover that algae itself won’t typically harm you. But when you see algae in your pool, there’s a high likelihood that something far more sinister is lurking in the water too. If the level of chlorine in your pool isn’t sufficient to kill algae, it won’t be adequate to get rid of harmful bacteria, viruses or even parasites. All it would take would be one small cut, or one open eye, or one accidental ear, mouth, or nose full of water for these nasty microscopic organisms to make their way into your body. Once they get inside you, they can wreak havoc on your system, causing symptoms like diarrhea, fevers, and earaches.
How Can You Tell if the Water is Safe?
The only way you can determine if your pool is at a safe chemical level for swimming is by testing the water. Always check your pool’s alkalinity and pH levels before you swim, especially if you’ve recently had to clean up an algae outbreak. The right levels for safe swimming are a consistent chlorine level of between 1 and 5 ppm and a combined chlorine level of almost zero.
Also, look at the appearance of the water. You want the water to look clear and unclouded, as well as transparent. If it has a blue or greenish tint, you may want to wait a while even if your chemical numbers look okay, just out of an abundance of caution. Another risk of cloudy water is the safety hazard it poses for anyone watching kids playing in the pool. They may not see if someone is at the bottom of the pool if the water gets too cloudy.
If You Shock the Pool, Wait
Shocking your pool regularly can help to clear up any algae problems you may have. Always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for the amount of granular chlorine you should use to shock the pool. Then wait for at least the recommended time before you go swimming. This amount of time will vary from product to product, so read the instructions to find out how long you should wait to get into the pool after adding that particular type of pool shock.
Don’t Forget to Filter the Water!
Whenever you’ve had an algae outbreak in your pool, it’s extremely important to run the filter continuously until the problem is cleared up. Check the filter several times a day so you can see when it needs to be back washed. If it’s not able to keep up with the job, consider adding a new cartridge or sand. If that still doesn’t help, you may need a larger filter. Clarifiers and algaecides are great products you can add to the pool several days after your main shock treatment. These will help keep the algae from re-infesting your pool.
Hopefully, now you understand why swimming in a pool with visible algae isn’t a good idea. It’s not what you can see in the water that could hurt you, it’s the unseen world of nasty bacteria and other pathogens that you want to avoid!
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