What do they think the chlorine is meant to protect against?

Andréa says “We’ve had a pool for five years now, and other than kids peeing in it (which is why only dogs and adults are allowed in ours), I don’t understand this. Chlorine is MORE necessary when it’s warm and sunny . . . and yes, I remember we had some kind of discussion about kids in pools quite a while ago.”

What I even more don’t get is what the four descending inset panels are doing here at all. When are they taking place? In what way do they relate to the dialogue?


  1. Only thing I’ve got is that warmer water makes it easier to float, leading to less panic and less loss of bladder control.

  2. I think the effect that Mallett is implying is that sudden cold might trigger a spontaneous incontinent response. While that can be true for babies (especially boys), I don’t think it works that way for kids & adults, quite the opposite, in fact.

  3. Perhaps the kid is suggesting that people are prone to peeing in a cold pool to warm themselves up. He may have done this as he descended. Frazz, still being in the pool, is hoping this comment is speculation and not empirically based.

  4. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S32y9aYEzzo – Mark Rober measures the amount of pee in a pool.

    This kid jumped in at some point (the 4 inlet panels are in the past), realized the water is freezing, and quickly scrambled out of the pool and grabbed a towel. I took his comment to suggest the sudden chill causes people to need to pee. The US masters swimmers website seems to agree this is possible.

  5. As a long-time swimmer, lifeguard, and pool manager I have thoughts on this. (A) Yes, generally going into a much colder environment does cause most humans to feel the need to urinate. This is true as well, for example, going from bitterly cold outside shoveling snow, to walking into a really warm house. (B) You do need more chlorine in the summer. It is a chemical (chlorine is used up faster the warmer it gets), biological (algae, etc. grows more in the warm water), and social (you get more swimmers and their concomitant oils, etc. in the warm weather. And (C) you let DOGS but not kids in the pool? In general, a single dog brings about 3 times the detritus as a single human. It is fine to have them in the pool, but a small child occasionally peeing (and don’t think the adults don’t pee, they do! they just don’t tell you) is, on balance, less of an environmental impact on your pool than a dog.

  6. Thanks for explaining the chronology of the inset steps. I am interested despite myself to see this cartoonist working out nice innovations of form (such as the color coded speech balloons we saw earlier this week) while maintaining attitudes I sometimes find exasperating.

  7. @Targuman: “And (C) you let DOGS but not kids in the pool?”

    Well, I don’t have any kids – I had dogs instead. It’s not like I’m going to go out to find some kids to swim in our pool; everybody here has their own pool, anyway.

    Only one dog out of three goes into the pool (Gipsy, my Pool Fool), who only goes out of the house/screen house when going to vet or grooming. So, no detritus there. I think Hubby and I bring in more bamboo leaves on our feet when we go in. That’s what filters are for.

    [video src="http://www.alldogssite.com/GOPR2838.m4v" /]

  8. Thanks to TedD for that article, but is it common knowledge that cold water makes you feel the need to urinate? I’ve never heard of, nor experienced, this phenomenon. Had anyone ever asked me, I would have been more in Kilby’s camp with this (“…I don’t think it works that way for kids & adults, quite the opposite, in fact”).

    If it isn’t widely known, and this is the point of the comic, then maybe that’s part of the reason why it’s a CIDU. If it is no secret, then I need to brush up on my urology.

  9. The only I know is that if you put on a wetsuit for diving, the lower you dive, the more intense the need to urinate.

  10. That would fit with his descent in the four inset panels, but not with the warm water theory in the dialog.

  11. I was just reading, a couple of weeks ago, an article about needing urgently to pee and one trigger, they said, could be a pressing (i.e. pressure) on the bladder or something connected to it through nerves, sometimes caused simply by standing up.

  12. So there seem to be a number of implicit assumptions going on in the strip, so in order to try and understand it, let’s make them explicit; see if I got them all:
    1) Chlorine negates pee — the more pee, the more chlorine you need
    2) Cold water causes more pee, warm water causes less pee
    3) The powers that be know and accept both 1) and 2) and adjust the chlorination of the pool accordingly

    Does Frazz accept 2) implicitly, and just seems squeamish actually knowing the source of some of the pee, or is he questioning 2), asking if there is data (well, anecdote) or just speculation? The phrasing of his question makes it sound like he accepts 2), he just wants to continue pretending he doesn’t know that this kid specifically donated, which is not particularly logical: either he cares that he is immersed in pee, or he doesn’t — the provenance of the pee shouldn’t matter. Especially if he accepts 3), he shouldn’t care. And if he is supposed to be a total naif, then he wouldn’t understand the kid’s comment, because (like us), he wouldn’t know the implicit assumptions. So either he knows there is pee in the pool, and is fine with it because of 3), or he doesn’t know what the heck the kid is talking about. So that’s the source of the fail, internal inconsistency in Frazz’ assumed knowledge.

  13. larK – Chlorine does not “negate” pee. It will mix with it and give that bad smell and kill any bacteria from the urine, but the urine is still there. Frazz knows this and knows people are going to pee in the pool. He can’t change the world, but he can hope at least one person he knows isn’t guilty of this. This technique is not uncommon. “You didn’t drive two blocks to the store just to pick up a loaf of bread, right?” He can accept the reality of what happens, but can also work to correct bad behavior of those around him opportunistically.

  14. TedD, I think larK was identifying premise (1) as something the dialogue seems to presuppose (but may not), not at all presenting it as fact. But it’s good to have the fact of the matter laid out, thank you.

    The issue of whether they (or Frazz in particular) think that was meant to be implied by the question in the post title (or what Kilby likes to call the headline).

  15. Mitch4 – Right.. I should have read that more carefully abut larK’s premise (1). D’oh! That does seem to be something Frazz assumes the kid thinks is true.

  16. I was going to say, “for a healthy person, urine is sterile” but these days I usually check that sort of thing and several reputable sites tell me that’s incorrect..

  17. Ah, one more implicit assumption to make explicit:

    2a) Cold water causes people to pee involuntarily
    2a’) People voluntarily pee in cold water to warm themselves up

    I have to admit, I was assuming 2a) and not 2a’), even though it did come up in conversation.

  18. Andréa (“… the lower you dive, the more intense the need to urinate.”) , that could just be a function of the increase in pressure as you go deeper.

  19. I’m gonna bring up something gross here, but . . . I read an article a few weeks back about how in-pool bars are VERY unsanitary, for obvious reasons. Sure put me off my Margarita!

  20. @ Mitch (re: “headlines”) – Once upon a time I assisted on layout for my high school newspaper, but not so much as that I would ever use the term “hed”.

  21. And I certainly would never push hed (though it’s not as objectional as lede). My teasing about headline is just because the WP composition interface labels that space Title.

  22. @Andréa are those in-pool bars themselves actually in the water? Or more like a swim-up situation, where the bar is safely on the side but the drinkers are in the pool? Actually, either way the question arises — the water used for the bar isn’t actually siphoned up from the pool is it??

  23. Getting away from urine for a moment, what are those two rings by the kid’s feet? I’m guessing some sort of pool toy, but I don’t know what.

  24. @ Stan – They are often used when kids are learning to swim. The ring sinks to the bottom of the pool, and the kid’s assignment is to dive in and retrieve it.

  25. Ahhh, ok. I think I prefered the nickles my dad used to chuck in for my sister and I to retrieve. Bane of the filtration system, maybe, but I ended up with nearly 20 cents by the end of the day. Take that, millennials!!!

  26. @ Stan – If I had used coins with my kids I would have gone broke. No matter whether we used rings, or other toys made for the same purpose (we have several), they had far more stamina than just four throws. Get them started and they would keep at it for half an hour, easy.

  27. @Kilby: I’m sorry, I realized the ambiguity after it was too late to correct it. I meant Mallett, of course.

  28. @ Powers – No problem, I was just curious. My prose tends to be a little convoluted, and I quit following Frazz over a year ago, so I only see those few examples that show up here,

  29. The Rober video says that you can’t directly measure urea to determine amount of pee in a pool, because people secrete urea in their sweat. So, assuming your body doesn’t have some kind of hygrometer and just sweats more the warmer it is, then the kid’s conclusion would be exactly the opposite: the warmer the water gets, the more chlorine you would need (assuming implicit premise 1). (And adding implicit premise 0: pee is just water and urea, and maybe a few trace minerals, and what we all object to and what makes pee pee is the urea.)

    The Rober video also comes to the conclusion that there is something along the lines of 25 ml of pee in a given pool per person; this doesn’t necessarily implicate humanity, because as we all know, “no matter how you shake and dance, the last few drops end up in your pants”… or the pool, as the case may be.

  30. @Mitch4: You don’t think once someone starts drinking, s/he is gonna take a break and use the inside bathrooms, do you? That’s what the article was about.

  31. Not to get too gross here, but I beleive the reason for chlorinating pools are to a) prevent algal growth and b) disinfect fecal matter in the water.

  32. I’m just pleased to hear that the drinks are not necessarily adulterated! Even without suspicion of urine, or skin slough-off, chlorinated water seems a bad replacement for soda water!

  33. And you also have to add an algaecide, depending on the heat of the water (very similar to altho in larger amounts to what I add to my birdbaths).

  34. @ larK – That ditty also exists in German: “Du kannst [ihn] schütteln, du kannst [ihn] klopfen, aber in der Hose bleibt / der letzte Tropfen.

  35. Purely by coincidence, I just saw this on Graham Norton (starting at 6:40, if the prior discussions don’t interest you).

  36. Kilby- If I get cold I am running quickly for the bathroom. (Then again, I am an old lady.)

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