Communal, unsupervised water play tables are not recommended. Only use communal water tables if children are supervised and the following conditions apply:
- Children must wash their hands before and after using a water play table.
- Water tables shall be filled with cold, fresh, potable water just before the children begin the play activity.
- Children with cuts, scratches and sores on their hands, and those with colds or runny noses, shall not be permitted to use the water play table. This also applies to the daycare staff who would be preparing, cleaning and disinfecting the water table.
- Discontinue water play table use during any outbreak of illness.
- Minimize water play table use when the room temperature is above 27°C (80°F) in times of high humidity in non-air-conditioned facilities. These conditions would be ideal for bacteria in the water to multiply quickly.
- Discard water after two hours of play.
- Table and toys must be washed/rinsed and disinfected with normal strength disinfectant, and allowed to air dry after each play session, paying special attention to any sponge toys.
- At the end of the day, ensure the tables are kept covered.
A better way to use a water play table is to use the table to hold a personal basin for each child engaged in water play. With this approach, supervision must be provided to ensure children confine their play to their own basins.
The addition of bleach is not really recommended given the above requirements. We used to recommend bleach, but have noted that bleach/water ratios were inconsistent (too much or too little) and the water play tables would be left sitting for varying lengths of time.