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Staying Safe While Swimming This Summer

Posted on Tuesday, May 23, 2017
Many look forward to jumping into a cool pool on a hot summer’s day. It’s a healthy form of exercise, a great activity for many with injuries or other exercise limitations, and good way to cool off and have fun. Although we may not want to think about it while enjoying a nice dip in the pool, pools can carry germs or chemical risks without proper treatment and use and can lead to recreational water illnesses.

Many look forward to jumping into a cool pool on a hot summer’s day. It’s a healthy form of exercise, a great activity for many with injuries or other exercise limitations, and good way to cool off and have fun. Although we may not want to think about it while enjoying a nice dip in the pool, pools can carry germs or chemical risks without proper treatment and use and can lead to recreational water illnesses (RWIs).

What are RWIs?

The most common types of RWIs cause gastrointestinal illness and diarrheal diseases. The most common germs found in swimming pools are Crypto or CryptosporidiumGiardiaShigellanorovirus, and E. coli O157:H7. Other types or RWI include skin, eye, and respiratory problems caused by chemicals in the water. These reactions can even occur in people who are not swimming as chemical bioproducts can get into the air. Finally, swimming can lead to ear infections so always use a dry towel to dab out any excess water in you or your children’s ears after swimming.

RWI Prevention

Unfortunately, many germs like Crypto, can survive in chlorine for up to a few days so proper chlorination alone isn’t enough. It’s important to keep yourself and your family out of pools if you are having experiencing any illness to prevent the spread of disease to others. Make sure young children come out of the water to use the bathroom or have a diaper change at least every hour. Shower before and after going into a pool to remove germs and any products that may interact with chlorine from your body. Remind children not to drink pool water and to wash their hands after using the bathroom and before getting into a pool. If you see any reasons for concern, contact the manager maintaining the pool’s site.

You can read about the regulations and inspections of public pools in your state using CDC’s State-based Healthy Swimming Database.

Stay happy and healthy while swimming this summer. More information for swimmers, pool managers, clinicians, and public health professionals can be found here