State Department of Public Health
offers safety tips to prevent injury during activities to keep cool
Send a link to a friend
[JULY 31, 2006]
-- Illinoisans are reminded to take precautions to prevent disease
and injury while keeping cool this summer. The onset of hot summer
days can mean danger while participating in certain activities at
beaches and swimming pools, hot tubs or spas, as well as other
outdoor fun. There is also a potential for injury, such as falls on
wet surfaces and diving accidents.
People will have more fun
at the beach or pool, while keeping cool, if they know what
potential health hazards to avoid. For example, the Illinois
Department of Public Health recommends you should swim only in pools
where the water quality is properly maintained and avoid beaches
littered with trash or other debris.
In June, Gov. Rod R.
Blagojevich launched the Keep Cool Illinois campaign, a
comprehensive, multiagency effort to help prepare Illinois
residents, especially the elderly, families with small children and
people with disabilities, for the dangers and risks that summer
temperatures can bring. The campaign includes a statewide network of
cooling centers, targeted outreach to vulnerable residents, energy
assistance programs, public service announcements, air pollution
warnings, fire safety, water safety and energy savings tips. As part
of the campaign, the Illinois Department of Public Health released
the following helpful tips for outdoor enthusiasts.
Swimming can be hazardous due to the numerous diseases that may
be transmitted by contaminated water.
Swimming in contaminated water can also cause infections in the
eyes, nose, ears and in cuts and scrapes. Ways to avoid pool
contamination include showering before entering the pool and washing
hands after using the bathroom or changing a diaper.
The following are some tips to use this summer during activities
to keep cool.
Never swim alone,
regardless of how experienced a swimmer.
Avoid swimming at
beaches where there are large populations of ducks or geese. The
waste produced by these birds causes high bacteria levels in the
Look for movement
in the water; it helps keep the water clean. Do not swim in
stagnant or still water.
Look for a sandy --
not muddy -- beach that has a grassy or wooded area around it.
Such areas reduce surface runoff into the swimming water.
Do not swim at any
beach right after a heavy rain. Runoff following a heavy rain
may result in a high bacteria count.
When diving at a
beach, exercise extreme caution. Beach water is not as clear as
water in a pool, so underwater obstructions may not be visible.
If there is any doubt, do not dive.
[to top of second column]
Pool attendees should:
for obvious signs of cleanliness, including whether the water is
clear and if you can see the bottom of the pool. Although it is
impossible to tell if water is free of bacteria, the water
should appear crystal clear, be continuously circulated and be
maintained at a level that allows free overflow into the gutter
or skimmer. There should be no strong odor of ammonia or
sure drains are clear of debris and that drain covers are in
place and secure.
Determine that a lifeguard is present, especially if children
are present. If no lifeguard is on duty, do not let children
swim unless a responsible adult who knows lifesaving techniques
and first aid accompanies them.
Skin infections are the most common illness spread
through hot tubs and spas.
At the spa or hot tub:
that the water is not extremely hot, which is not safe. Soaking
time should not exceed 10 to 15 minutes at temperatures between
98 and 104 degrees Fahrenheit. If nausea or lightheadedness
occur, get out of the water immediately.
Monitor or restrict small children from using a spa or hot tub,
due to the heat and turbulent waters.
that suction grate covers are in place to prevent entrapment.
Bathers should not submerge their whole heads in the water.
People with long hair should tie it up or wear a cap to avoid
possible entrapment by the suction inlets.
In order to minimize the risks associated with
swimming, the Department of Public Health requires the state's 3,500
swimming pools and spas to meet water quality and safety standards.
The department enforces these rules and
regulations through plan approvals and inspections.
To prevent illnesses associated with swimming at
Illinois beaches, each licensed beach is inspected annually to
determine that required safety features are in place and there are
no sources of possible pollution, such as sewage discharges. The
Department of Public Health also requires that each of the 335
licensed public beaches (excluding Chicago beaches, which are
regulated by the Chicago Park District) be sampled every two weeks
to determine that bacterial levels in the water are within
Illinois residents can find additional summer
safety, health and energy savings tips at
or by calling 1 (877) 411-9276.