It can be shocking to see a dead animal in pool issue. Let us start by informing you that this is quite common and most germs carried by small animals are killed by chlorine within minutes in a well maintained swimming pool. There are a couple germs of concern that require extra attention. They can be found in raccoons, ducks, and geese and we will go over how to handle droppings and death of these animals.
Most small dead animal in pool issues do not pose a health risk to swimmers and they include: skunks, mice, gophers, rats, snakes, frogs, birds, etc. This is so long as ideal water chemistry is maintained. The County of Orange procedures for contamination of a public pool by feces, drowning incidents, vomitus or dead animals is a must read if your pool is contaminated, but we are focusing on dead animals and animal feces with this article.
Dead Animal in Pool Solutions
First, we need to remove the dead animal in pool. Use a double plastic bag and then grab the dead animal like you would dog feces on the lawn and tie up the bag in a knot and throw in your garbage receptacle.
In the County of Orange Contamination Bulletin, a well maintained pool is defined as one with a free chlorine concentration of at least 1.5 ppm when using cyanuric acid (conditioner) with a pH range of 7.2 - 8.0. At Pool Heaven, we aim for 2.0 to 4.0 free chlorine concentration in our customer's swimming pools at all times, so most dead animal incidents in our swimming pools are nothing to be concerned of. Still, we like to shock the pool or spa with extra chlorine, non-chlorine shock, and a clarifier in the event we see a dead animal in one of our pools. This little spike of chlorine will not harm swimmers and provides a little peace of mind.
Ducks, Geese, and Raccoons Can Pose Health Risk
Now, if we are dealing with a dead raccoon/duck and/or visible feces from either a raccoon or duck, The County of Orange advises special procudures.
Raccoons are pests and can spread germs to humans. It is important to keep raccoons out of your pool and watch for raccoon fees in and around your pool. Raccoon feces can sometimes contain infectious worm eggs that are very tough. Chlorine will not kill them and lab tests are needed to confirm presence of this germ. If you notice raccoon feces or a dead raccoon in your pool or spa, this is the easiest option to clean your pool.
- Close the swimming pool until you have finished sterilizing the swimming pool.
- Filter the pool or spa for a minimum of 24 hours and then backwash the pool filter.
- Dismantle and clean your pool or spa filter: Put on disposable gloves when handling filter debris that came in contact with raccoon germs or feces. Put the discarded material in doubled plastic garbage bags. Remove gloves and place them in the garbage bags. Wash your hands with soap and water.
Duck and goose droppings may contain germs that can infect humans as well. Ducks are protected animals and hard to get rid of. Never feed ducks and/or invite them in your pool or yard. The O.C. Health Care Agency advises to treat bird droppings the same way as solid human stool which is to:
- raise the chlorine level to 2 ppm (we try to maintain this level at all times regardless)
- maintain pH between 7.2 - 7.5
- raise water temp. to at least 77 degrees.
- maintain these levels and keep pool closed for 30 min. while doing so.
Avoid Vacuuming Fecal Matter
You can read our other articles on Human Contamination for more specific treatment regarding humans, but one main point to raise is to remove all visible fecal matter human or animal with a silt net (if possible) rather than vacuum with pool equipment, because microparticulates can return back to pool. Remember to clean and sterilize whatever comes in contact with the feces especially nets.
Most dead animal in pool issues do not pose health risks, so long as your pool is properly maintained. We follow guidelines set by The Orange County Health Care Agency Contamination Bulletin to ensure a safe swimming pool. This bulletin covers human feces, drowning incidents, vomitus, and various dead animals. Don't panic or drain as there are easier, more effective solutions. Keeping your pool safe and sterile is a major part of maintaining your Pool Heaven!
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