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What do I do if someone poops in the pool?

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What do I do if someone poops in the pool?

pool fresh and clean after someone poops in the pool

The 5 most dreaded words a pool owner ever wants to hear: “Someone pooped in the pool!!” It doesn’t happen often but when someone poops in the pool, you need a plan. The short answer is that you are going to shock the pool and keep the level of shock at a high level for a prescribed period of time. We have put together a quick reference guide to help you know what to do if you do find poop in the pool. 

Why is it necessary to close and disinfect after someone poops in the pool?

Let’s start with the why. Why is it necessary to close and disinfect the pool? Isn’t that what chlorine is for? It is true that the chlorine disinfects but the normal level of chlorine won’t cut it. All fecal material contains bacteria that cause Recreational Water Illnesses or RWIs. Bacteria like E Coli, Hepatitis A, Giardia and Crypto parasite can all be transferred to the water when someone poops in the pool. The good news is that these types of bacteria can be killed by chlorine. That being said, these types of bacteria take several days to disinfect without elevated chlorine levels. Pool closure time can be lessened when we treat the water with an elevated level of chlorine.

Is all poop handled the same?

There are two types of “fecal incidents” you may encounter. Studies show that there is a difference in the bacterial contents of formed poop as opposed to diarrhea. The chances of the dreaded Crypto parasite being found in a formed stool are very unlikely while it is much more likely that it could be found in diarrhea. The CDC reports that diarrhea is the most common illness reported for outbreaks in recreational water. Both types of fecal incidences can be handled without having to drain the pool. However, because of the different risk factors, there are two different procedures for handling formed stools and diarrhea stools in the pool.

Formed fecal material is the easier of the two incidences to handle. The CDC recommends that if you find formed poop in the pool you should treat for Giardia, E-Coli, and bacteria. The Crypto parasite found in diarrhea is much more tolerant of chlorine and requires considerably higher chlorine levels and a longer exposure period to eradicate.

If you find formed poop you should:

  • Close the pool to swimmers. Don’t allow anyone into the pool until things have been fully disinfected.
  • Put on disposable gloves. Remove the fecal material, using a bucket or a net. Dispose of the fecal material in a sanitary way. Be sure to disinfect whatever you used to remove the poop. Remove and dispose of gloves in a sanitary manner.

Do not attempt to vacuum the stool from the pool.

  • Chlorine-based disinfectant must be used even if you usually use bromine to disinfect. Raise the chlorine level to 2 parts per million. The PH level needs to be 7.5 or less and the temperature of the pool needs to be 77 degrees or above. With this combination, you will be able to reopen your pool in approximately 30 minutes. If these minimum requirements are not met, keep the pool closed for a longer time period according to how far off it is.
  • Keep your filtration system running during the disinfection process.

If you find diarrhea you should:

  • Close the pool to swimmers. Don’t allow anyone into the pool until things have been fully disinfected.
  • Put on disposable gloves. Remove the fecal material, using a bucket or a net. Dispose of the fecal material in a sanitary way. Be sure to disinfect whatever you used to remove the poop. Remove and dispose of gloves in a sanitary manner. 

Just like a formed stool, do not attempt to vacuum diarrhea from the pool.

  • Chlorine-based disinfectant must be used, even if you usually use bromine to disinfect. Raise the chlorine level to 20 parts per million. The ph level must be maintained at 7.5 or less and the temperature of the pool needs to be 77 degrees or above. These levels need to be maintained for a minimum of 13 hours to be sure that 99.9% of the Crypto is killed. If these minimum requirements are not maintained it will take well over 24 hours to be sure that the Crypto has been inactivated.
  • Keep your filtration system running during the disinfection process.
  • Once the disinfection is complete, replace the cartridge or backwash the filter directly to waste. Do not return the backwash through the filter.
  • Do not allow anyone back into the pool until disinfection is complete AND until the chlorine and PH levels have returned to normal.

Prevention

Clearly, prevention of the issue is highly preferred over having to deal with the clean-up of fecal material found in the swimming pool. All swimmers should be cautioned not to use the pool if they have or have recently had a stomach virus or diarrhea. Anyone having had Crypto should stay out of the pool for two weeks after their diarrhea symptoms have ceased. All kids should be reminded to use the bathroom prior to entering the pool and to take frequent bathroom breaks. Tots in diapers should be checked hourly and changed in an area away from the pool.

Aqua Pools hopes this guide will prove helpful to you in case someone poops in the pool. Even though we hope you never need this information, It is a good idea to keep it on hand, just in case. We don’t want you to panic and wonder “What do I do if someone poops in the pool?” 

Aqua Pools is your number one source for stocking up on the BioGuard® chemical supplies you need to not only keep your pool water balanced but to counteract the dreaded “poops in the pool” incident. If after treating the mishap, you are still concerned about water quality, you can bring in a sample of your pool water to us for testing. We will conduct the test and make recommendations on what you may need to restore your pool to its former pristine condition. 

 

Updated 9/28/2022

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