There is nothing like a refreshing visit to a water park during hot summer days. One of the most popular attractions at a water park is the splash pads.  The kids love them.  Little do most parents know, but splash pads can also be a playground for poop.

That's right, The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says in June 21 people had to be hostpitalized after visiting the Tanganyika Wildlife Park in Goddard, Kansas.  Another 36 people reported gastrointestinal illnesses after visiting the splash park. The vast majority of these illnesses came from a form of E. coli called enteropathogenic E. coli.  Of course any E. coli comes from exposure to feces or poop.


The park is open now with a new filtration system.

This is not an isolated incident. There are many incidents involving outbreaks of nasty poop related illnesses at splash pads.  There have even been cases of brain eating amoebas.  Exposure to this horrible pathogen is almost always fatal.

In almost all cases, the outbreaks could have been prevented if the splash pad water had been adequately chlorinated. Facilities should not liet water sit in holding tanks overnight.  To be safe, the water should be continuously recirculated, filtered and chlorinated on an automated basis.

One of the reasons why splash pads are risky is because they cater to very young children, many in diapers, who playfully sit their dirty diapered butts on the jets spreading their poop bacteria  all around. Then, other children splash their faces and sometimes drink the water.

The CDC says when swimming in pools, soaking in hot tubs or visiting water splash jet, you should follow certain guidelines:

  • Don’t swim or let your kids swim if sick with diarrhea. If Crypto is the cause of the diarrhea, wait until 2 weeks after diarrhea has stopped to go swimming.
  • Check the pools, hot tubs and water playground inspection scores. [Some of this information is available at: How To Check Water Park Safety Ratings


Service man checking chlorine, PH and other chemical levels in community pool

Make sure you tell you kids not to swallow the water. You should also take your kids on bathroom breaks hourly and change the diapers far from the water.

While we can always be sure that we are following the safety guidelines, in public places we can never be sure others are. Always use caution and seek medical attention at the first sign of illness after visiting a water park.

I know it is not scientific, but if the water smells like chlorine, I usually feel that it is safe. Like they used to say about "yellow snow" avoid any waterpark where the water looks brownish, and Happy Swimming.

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