Summer is almost here, which mean swimming will be back on many agendas. Swimming is one of the most popular activities in the United States because it’s fun, not to mention a great way to get healthy, but when the proper safety precautions aren’t taken, it can also be potentially dangerous.
Illness Related to Swimming
Whether you spend long afternoons by the ocean or early mornings at the community pool, there is always a risk of falling victim to a recreational water illness. RWI occurs when a person comes into contact with contaminated water that enters the body by swallowing the water or inhaling mist from it. This can cause illnesses involving the gastrointestinal system, ears, eyes, skin, respiratory system and even the neurological system. The most common illness related to swimming is diarrhea caused by Cryptosporidium, Shingella, E.coli0157:H7, Giardia or norovirus.
Preventing Recreational Water Illness
The easiest way to prevent the spread of RWIs is to keep out of the water if you are sick. Shower before entering the water to ensure you’ve removed any lingering or potentially dangerous germs. Never let children (or adults for that matter) urinate or defecate in the water—for young children you can take them the restrooms about once per hour to be safe, and warn them about drinking or swallowing water from the pool or ocean. Don’t forget to check swim diapers for accidents, and make sure everyone has plenty of water to drink.
Chemicals in Pools and Spas
In addition to taking care of yourself when you’re at the community pool or beach, you should also take care of your personal pool or spa if you have one. Each needs to have the correct chemical levels. A pool should have 1-3mg/L of chlorine and a pH level between 7.2 and 7.8. Hot tubs and spas should have chlorine of 2-4 parts per million or bromine of 4-6 parts per million. Their pH levels should also be between 7.2 and 7.8.
Ensuring your pools and hot tubs are properly taken care of and following proper swimming safety guidelines at community pools and beaches will help everyone have a great time without worry of coming home sick or making other people sick in the process. You’ll have a happier, healthier summer!