Healthy & Safe Swimming

National Healthy & Safe Swimming Week is May 22-26, 2017! Healthy and safe swimming is not just about the steps the pool operators, beach managers, and health departments take. We all need to do our part to help keep ourselves, our families, and friends healthy this summer and year-round, to maximize the fun and health benefits of swimming.

Drowning: Every day, two children less than 14 years old die from drowning. Drowning is a leading cause of injury death for children ages 1–4 years.

Steps & Tips to Prevent Drowning:

Teach children basic water safety tips.

Never leave a child unattended in or near a pool or spa and always watch your children closely around all bodies of water.

Designate a Water Watcher to supervise children in the pool or spa. This person should not be reading, texting, using a smartphone or be otherwise distracted. Adults can take turns being a Water Watcher.

Use life jackets appropriately.

Learn how to perform CPR on children and adults, and update those skills regularly.

If a child is missing, look for him or her in the pool or spa first.

Keep children away from pool drains, pipes, and other openings to avoid entrapments.

Ensure any pool and spa you use has drain covers that comply with federal standards

Install a four-foot or taller fence around the perimeter of the pool and spa and use self-closing and self-latching gates; ask your neighbors to do the same at their pools.

Install and use a lockable safety cover on your spa.

Use locks/alarms for windows and doors.

Have lifesaving equipment such as life rings, floats or a reaching pole available and easily accessible

Injuries caused by mishandling pool chemicals (for pool operators and residential pool owners): Pool chemicals are added to maintain water quality (for example, kill germs). Each year, however, mishandling of pool chemicals by operators of public pools and residential/backyard pool or hot tub/spa owners leads to 3,000–5,000 visits to emergency departments across the United States.

Simple & Effective Steps We Can Take:

Pool operators and residential pool owners should:

Read and follow directions on product labels.

Wear appropriate safety equipment (for example, goggles), as directed on product labels, when handling pool chemicals.

Secure pool chemicals to protect people, particularly young children, and animals.

Add pool chemicals poolside ONLY when directed by product label and when no one is in the water.

Prevent violent, potentially explosive, reactions.

NEVER mix different pool chemicals with each other, particularly chlorine products and acid.

Pre-dissolve pool chemicals ONLY when directed by product label.

Add pool chemical to water, NEVER water to pool chemical.

 Illnesses caused by the germs in the places we swim: In 2010-2011, 90 outbreaks were linked to swimming; almost half of these outbreaks were caused by Cryptosporidium. Chlorine can kill most germs within minutes at concentrations recommended by CDC and typically required by state and local health departments. But Crypto can survive more than one week at these chlorine concentrations. Diarrheal incidents in the water we share and swim in can easily spread germs and potentially cause outbreaks. Because chlorine and other disinfectants don’t kill germs instantly, it’s important to keep these germs, particularly Crypto, out of the water in the first place and not drink the water we share and swim in, this summer and year-round.

Simple & Effective Steps We Can Take:

Every swimmer should:

Stay out of the water if you have diarrhea.

Shower before you get in the water.

Don’t pee or poop in the water.

Don’t swallow the water.

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.

Harmful Algal Blooms: Algae can grow in warm, nutrient-rich fresh and marine waters. When there is an abundant growth of algae that harms people or animals, it is referred to as a harmful algal bloom (HAB). HABs in fresh and marine waters can produce toxins that cause a variety of illnesses including skin irritation, coughing, sneezing, diarrhea, stomach pain, numbness, and dizziness. Symptoms can vary depending on the type of HAB toxin and the type of exposure, such as skin contact, ingestion by eating food or drinking water contaminated with HAB toxins or breathing in tiny droplets or mist contaminated with HAB toxins.

Simple & Effective Steps We Can Take:

Avoid water that contains harmful algal blooms—when in doubt, stay out!

Look for waterbody or beach advisories announced by local public health authorities or beach managers. If the beach is closed, stay out.

Don’t swim, water ski, or boat in areas where the water is discolored or where you see foam, scum, or mats of algae on the water’s surface.

Avoid entering or swimming in bodies of water that contain or are near dead fish or other dead animals.

Keep children or pets from playing in or drinking scummy water.

If you do swim in water that might contain a harmful algal bloom, get out and rinse off with fresh water as soon as possible.

If pets, especially dogs, swim in scummy water, rinse them off immediately. Do not let them lick the algae off of their fur.

What are RWIs? Recreational water illnesses (RWIs) are caused by germs spread by swallowing, breathing in mists or aerosols of, or having contact with contaminated water in swimming pools, hot tubs, water parks, water play areas, interactive fountains, lakes, rivers, or oceans. RWIs can also be caused by chemicals in the water or chemicals that evaporate from the water and cause indoor air quality problems. Diarrhea is the most common RWI, and it is often caused by germs like Crypto (short for Cryptosporidium), Giardia, norovirus, Shigella, and E. coli O157: H7. Other common RWIs include skin, ear, respiratory, eye, neurologic, and wound infections. Children, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems are most at risk for RWIs.

Healthy Swimming: Swimming and other water-related activities are excellent ways to get the physical activity and health benefits needed for a healthy life. Americans swim hundreds of millions of times in pools, oceans, lakes, rivers, and hot tubs/spas each year and most people have a safe and healthy time enjoying the water. However, it is important to be aware of ways to prevent recreational water illnesses (RWIs), sunburn, and drowning that can occur. CDC's Healthy Swimming Program and website, launched in 2001, provides information for the public, public health and medical professionals, and aquatics staff so everyone can maximize the health benefits of swimming while minimizing the risk of illness and injury. Visit the Healthy Swimming website now and gain more tips on the following: health benefits, swimmer protection, RWIs, other recreational water issues, pools, hot tubs, oceans, lakes, rivers, and the model aquatic health code

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