Safe and Healthy Swimming
Every year people become ill from swimming in contaminated water. Germs in swimming pools, lakes and rivers cause recreational water illnesses. The most common illness is diarrhea, which can be caused by germs like E. coli, Shigella and Giardia.
Swimming water is shared by all swimmers. A person with diarrhea can contaminate the water with fecal matter without actually defecating in it. Then other swimmers may become ill when they get water in their mouths or accidentally swallow it.
Public swimming pools are treated with chlorine, which does kill germs. But chlorine doesn’t work instantly. Some germs, like “Crypto” can live in swimming pools for days. Rivers and lakes that are not treated with chlorine can be contaminated with sewage, animal waste and water runoff after it rains.
Children, pregnant women and people with compromised immune systems are more at risk for a severe illness if they are infected.
So what can you do to protect yourself and your family from recreational water illnesses this summer? Here are some healthy swimming behaviors to follow.
Do not swim when you have diarrhea. You can spread germs and make other people sick.
Do not swallow swimming water, and try to not even get it in your mouth.
Take a shower before swimming, and make sure to wash your bottom. Everybody has invisible amounts of fecal matter on their bottoms that can end up in the swimming water.
Put a waterproof diaper on your baby, and change it frequently in the bathroom, not beside the pool.
Always wash your hands with soap and water after changing a diaper or going to the bathroom.
Don’t urinate in the swimming water. Take your children to the bathroom frequently.
Avoid swimming in lakes and rivers if the water looks cloudy, or immediately after a heavy rain.
In addition, practice safe swimming. Drowning is the number two killer of young children in the United States. A child can drown in less than four inches of water, and in less than 20 seconds – about as long as it takes you to go inside and answer the phone. Children often drown silently, too, without calling out for help.