Healthy and Safe Swimming Week 2016Posted on by
Summer is here! For many, it is time to hit the pool or take your children on a summer outing to the waterpark. Swimming is a great way to exercise, have fun and relax while spending time with family and friends. However, like many activities, it is not risk-free.
Thousands of U.S. public pools and other aquatic venues are closed each year due to serious health and safety violations. Inspections of public aquatic venues are critical to prevent illness, drowning and pool chemical–associated injuries, including poisoning or burns.
This year, during Healthy and Safe Swimming Week, CDC is encouraging swimmers to protect themselves and their loved ones from getting sick or hurt while enjoying the pool, hot tub/spa, or water playground. CDC’s Michele Hlavsa is a nurse and the chief of CDC’s Healthy Swimming Program. As a mom, it is important for her to know how to keep her child healthy and safe in water. Michele points out, “We check out inspection results before eating out, why not check out inspection results before swimming?” Swimmers and parents of young swimmers, like Michele, can take steps to protect their health and safety and that of their families while having fun in the water this summer.
Before jumping into any type of treated water this summer, you can do your own simple and quick inspection.
- Use a test strip (available at most superstores or pool-supply stores) to determine if the water’s pH and free chlorine or bromine concentration are correct.
- Make sure the drain at the bottom of the deep end is visible.
- Clear water allows lifeguards and other swimmers to see swimmers underwater who might need help.
- Check that drain covers at the bottom appear to be secured and in good repair.
- Swimmers can get trapped underwater by a loose or broken drain cover.
- Confirm that a lifeguard is on duty at public pools. If not, check whether safety equipment, such as a rescue ring with rope or pole, is available.
Bring any problems that you find during your inspection to the attention of the person in charge of the facility so they can be fixed before you get in the water. If the problems are not addressed, you can report the issues to your state or local health department. You can also download an inspection checklist on the Healthy Swimming website.
Think Healthy. Swim Healthy. Be Healthy!
Recreational water illnesses can be caused by swallowing germs or coming into contact with – or breathing in mists or sprays of – contaminated water in swimming pools, hot tubs/spas, water playgrounds, lakes, rivers, or oceans. These illnesses result in a wide variety of infections, including gastrointestinal, skin, ear, respiratory, eye, neurologic, and wound infections.
Staying safe in and around the water is important, too. Don’t forget sun safety and drowning prevention. Learning swimming skills like floating, wearing life vests and, swimming under the supervision of parents, caregivers, or life guards who know CPR can prevent drowning.
Keep the pee, poop, sweat, blood, and dirt out of the water.
- Stay out of the water if you have diarrhea.
- Stay out of the water if you have an open wound (for example, from surgery or a piercing) that is not covered with a waterproof bandage.
- Shower before you get in the water – Rinsing off in the shower for just 1 minute removes most of the dirt or anything else on your body.
Protect yourself and others!
- Protect against sunburn by using sunscreen with at least SPF 15 that blocks both UVA and UVB rays.
- Use well-fitting Coast Guard approved life jackets for flotation assistance rather than foam or air-filled toys.
Once you are in the water…
- Don’t pee or poop in the water.
- Don’t swallow the water.
- Keep an eye on children at all times. Kids can drown in seconds and in silence.
Every hour—everyone out!
- Take kids on bathroom breaks.
- Check diapers, and change them in a bathroom or diaper-changing area–not poolside–to keep germs away from the pool.
- Reapply sunscreen.
- Drink plenty of fluids.
- Dry ears thoroughly with a towel after swimming.
 CDC recommends pH 7.2–7.8. The free chlorine concentration should be at least 1 ppm in pools and at least 3 ppm in hot tubs/spas. The free bromine concentration should be at least 3 ppm in pools and at least 4 ppm in hot tubs/spas. Use test strips to test pH and free chlorine or bromine concentration. Most superstores, hardware stores, and pool-supply stores sell test strips. Follow the manufacturer’s directions.