If you and the family are cooling off from the heat this summer at a local splash park, you might want to be aware of some potential dangers lurking in the water.

It has been very hot lately. If you were to go outside, you'd be looking for a place to cool off pretty fast. One of the most popular places for families to cool off, aside from swimming pools is splash parks or splash pads. We all know what these are: they are play areas with various objects that spray or jet water on guests. Kids love them because they can run, play, and splash through water all day. Parents love them because usually by the end of the visit, the kids are worn out, so they know the kiddos will sleep well that night. However, parents should be a little concerned about what could lurk in these splash parks' waters.

There Could Be Something in the Water...

According to KOKH, emergency room pediatrician Dr. Ryan Brown with OU Health's Oklahoma Children's Hospital suggests that anyone who plays in a splash park should shower or take a bath right after playing in the splash park. Why? Because there could be some really nasty bacteria in there that can cause rashes and gastrointestinal infections.

Dr. Brown says that the thing with splash parks is that some of the water sits stagnant for a while. When the water sits there like that, it can create bacteria and viruses. He goes on to explain:

"They're not really regulated like swimming pools are. So some of the splash pads have a continuous system where it loops the water through and it runs it through a filter. Other splash pads, the water just comes from the water, it splashes it out, then goes back into the sewer."
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That's Where The Gross Stuff Comes Into Play

You've got to think about all of the people playing in these splash pads at any given time. Not a single one of them is completely germ-free. You included! When people play in splash parks, things like germs, dirt, pee, and poop can rinse off of their bodies and shoes. The water being sprayed out can also rinse off any residue from the splash pad surfaces too. According to the CDC:

It can be difficult to keep the water in splash pads adequately disinfected. Spraying water reduces its chlorine or bromine level. Plus, when poop, pee, dirt, and debris get in the water, chlorine or bromine combine with them and break them down, meaning there is even less disinfectant available to kill germs. Swim diapers do not stop germs, poop, or pee from getting in the water.

So, before you hit up the splash park to beat the heat, take a look at some of the dos and don'ts from the CDC regarding splash parks:

DO:

  • DO stay out of the water if you are sick with diarrhea.

  • DO shower before getting in the water.

  • DO take kids on bathroom breaks or check diapers every hour.

DON’T:

  • DON’T swallow the water.

  • DON’T poop or pee in the water.

  • DON’T sit or stand on the jets. Sitting or standing on jets can rinse poop off your butt.

All of this being said: not all splash parks are full of germs, and the majority are very well taken care of. However, sometimes, especially with young kids, accidents happen and bacteria can spread. Just be aware of some of these possibilities.

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