Healthy and Safe Swimming Year-Round

Olympic size swimming pool

We typically think about healthy and safe swimming during the summer months, but a lot of people also swim in the fall, winter, and spring. Many hot tubs and indoor pools are open all year. Learn how to protect yourself and those you care about from illness and injury in and around the water.

Stay Healthy in Hot Tubs

Germs that cause recreational water illnesses can spread through water we swim, play, or relax in. Swimmers are at risk for these illnesses if they swallow, have contact with, or breathe in mists or aerosols from water contaminated with germs. Swimmers can also get recreational water illnesses by having contact with chemicals that are in the water or that evaporate from the water and turn into gas in the air.

Whenever you use a residential or public hot tub, it is important to keep the following HOT steps in mind to help keep yourself and others healthy and safe: Heed the rules, Observe your surroundings, and Talk to the operator!

Heed rules for healthy and safe use:

  • Don’t swallow the water.
  • Stay out of the water if sick with diarrhea.
  • Don’t let children less than 5 years old use hot tubs.
  • Don’t drink alcohol before or during hot tub use.
  • Take a shower with water and, if possible, soap before entering a hot tub.
  • If you are pregnant, consult a healthcare provider before using a hot tub.
  • Keep the number of people in a public hot tub (such as at a hotel or gym) below or at maximum capacity.

Follow CDC’s steps for healthy swimming while swimming, playing, or relaxing in the water.

Observe the hot tub and its surroundings:

  • Water temperature should not be higher than 104°F (40°C).
  • Check the water for proper disinfectant levels (chlorine or bromine) and pH, using test strips.
  • Tiles should not be sticky or slippery.
  • A properly chlorinated hot tub has little odor. A strong chemical smell indicates a problem.
two women sitting in a hot tub

Talk to hot tub operators and owners:

  • Are chlorine or bromine levels and pH checked at least twice a day?
  • Are these levels and pH checked when the hot tub is most heavily used?
  • What are the latest inspection results for the hot tub?
  • Are staff who are trained in hot tub operation available during the weekends when the hot tub is most heavily used?
  • Share the above tips with operators and owners to help prevent recreational water illnesses.

Stay Healthy in Indoor Pools

Swimming is a great form of exercise. But swimmers can experience nose and throat irritation from chloramines. Chloramines form in the water when chlorine combines with pee, poop, sweat, dirt, and skin cells that wash off swimmers’ bodies. After forming in the water, chloramines enter the air and give off a strong chemical smell.[1] Although chloramines can be present at outdoor pools, they are more likely to bother swimmers at indoor pools, because there is less ventilation.

Talk to the pool operator if you notice a strong chemical smell when swimming. Help protect yourself and those you care about by taking steps to stop chloramines from forming in the first place.

Stay Safe in the Water: Take Steps to Prevent Drowning

Drowning kills more children aged 1–4 years than anything else except birth defects. You can take action to prevent drowning:

  • Make sure everyone has basic swim skills, such as floating and treading water.
  • Make sure kids wear life jackets in and around natural bodies of water, such as lakes or the ocean, even if they know how to swim. Life jackets can be used in and around pools and hot tubs for weaker swimmers.
  • Supervise swimmers closely at all times.
  • Know how to recognize and respond to a swimmer in distress and how to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
  • If you own a pool or hot tub, keep children away from the area when they aren’t swimming.
    • Install and maintain barriers such as four-sided fencing.
    • Use locks and alarms for windows and doors.

[1] The chloramines that form in the chlorinated water we swim in are different from the chloramine that can be used to treat drinking water.

Page last reviewed: August 10, 2021