Now that warm weather is upon us, we long for beautiful days outside enjoying ourselves under the sun — this definitely includes hanging out at your apartment complex's pool so you can cool off. However, there's still a pandemic, so your usual swimming pool etiquette will look a little different this year.
Because the pandemic is still a concern, many communities are reopening their pools with a long list of rules designed to keep renters safe and healthy. Here's what you need to know when visiting the apartment pool this season.
While COVID-19 can spread through airborne droplets, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says there's no evidence you can catch the virus through the water in a swimming pool. However, outdoor swimming pools rank less risky than indoor ones, which are not as well ventilated.
Because the chlorine in the pool is a disinfectant, experts say the main risk is being in close contact with other people around you. Following public health guidelines designed to keep you safe is the way to go — so here is what you need to know about the swimming pool rules for your building.
Some apartment pools might post information online about swimming safely. If not, call the pool management team or building manager. Most local officials have implemented rules for public pools based on CDC guidelines. You might want to ask:
Aside from the pool water itself, tested by the staff, everything else in the area needs disinfecting too. Find out how often equipment such as lounge chairs, outdoor tables and chairs undergo cleaning. You might want to bring sanitizing wipes with you to clean things yourself.
Your apartment building might assign separate entrances and exits to the pool so that people move in one direction and stay six feet apart — just a few inches longer than a typical pool noodle.
Try swimming at off-peak hours so you can easily stay six feet away from people you don't live with. Your apartment pool might have signs and markers on the property reminding residents about physical distancing.
Avoid gathering at the edge of swimming lanes, on the stairs, near the diving board or on the pool deck, unless it's with the people in your household.
Most buildings strongly suggest limiting visitors during the pandemic. Anyone not living in your apartment should not accompany you to the pool.
To avoid indoor areas as much as possible, come to the pool ready to swim: Shower and put on your swimsuit in your apartment. Skip the pool's locker room!
One safety standard required for reopening pools is the number of people in the space — so everyone can stay six feet apart. If you get to the pool and it's crowded, come back later.
Until you actually go into the pool, wear a face mask to protect yourself and others on the pool deck.
Do not wear a mask while you're swimming — the CDC warns that a wet mask makes it harder to breathe. If your mask gets wet, it's less effective for protection too — so pack an extra one in case yours gets a good splashing.
Even if your apartment pool has goggles, snorkels, life jackets and noodles available for residents' use, you should bring your own. These items are difficult to disinfect and most come in contact with your face — so unless you find out how often they're cleaned between uses…avoid taking this risk!
Pay attention to your surroundings before and after entering the pool so you can avoid people coming in and out right beside you.
Once you're in the pool, leave plenty of room for other swimmers and don't try to pass anyone if you're swimming laps. This is basic pool etiquette anyway. Some pools might limit the kinds of strokes you can do to avoid excess splashing, such as the butterfly.
Whether you love playing Marco Polo or pool volleyball, it's harder to keep your distance when you're throwing a ball around. It's best to avoid close-contact games this season.
Just as you would in any public space, wash your hands before and after touching things. If you're using sanitizer, wipe off your hands with a towel first because greasy sunscreens reduce how well sanitizer works.
Because you need to take off your mask to enjoy refreshments, the CDC discourages eating and drinking at the pool unless you can distance yourself from anyone you don't live with.
Many pools have staff on site who will ask if you are feeling healthy. Be smart and respectful of other residents and follow pool etiquette. Please stay away from your apartment's swimming pool if you have a fever, cough or any other coronavirus symptoms that could put people at risk.
Last but not least — don't forget to wear SPF! Kill two birds with one stone — protect yourself from COVID-19 and sun damage.