Swimming season safety tips
2 children die from drowning
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[May 25, 2012]
SPRINGFIELD -- As pools and beaches
begin to open for the Memorial Day weekend, Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck,
state public health director, is encouraging people to learn how to
avoid injury and illness while swimming. The focus for this year's
Recreational Water Illness and Injury Prevention Week, May 21-27, is
"Swimming is a great source of exercise, but if you are not careful,
you may end up sick or hurt," said Dr. Hasbrouck. "You can get sick
from germs floating around in lakes, rivers and even swimming pools.
There are also injury hazards you need to watch out for, such as
slipping on wet surfaces and swimming pool equipment malfunctions.
Take the time during Recreational Water Illness and Injury
Prevention Week to learn how to avoid illness and injury, before you
jump in the water."
Every day, two children under the age of 14
years die from drowning, according to the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention. Drowning is the leading cause of injury
death for children 1-4 years old and is the seventh-leading cause of
unintentional injury death for all ages.
Drowning is preventable, although each year thousands die and
more are left with long-term consequences including memory problems,
learning disabilities or permanent loss of basic functioning (e.g.,
permanent vegetative state).
To reduce the risk of drowning:
Prepare by making sure that:
When in the water, keep swimmers safe by:
Using life jackets that fit for younger or weaker swimmers.
Providing continuous, attentive supervision even if there is a
Avoiding alcohol and drugs when swimming or watching swimmers.
When NOT in the water, prevent access to the water by:
Every year, thousands of Americans get sick with recreational
water illnesses, or RWIs, which are caused by germs found in places
where we swim. Illnesses can be caused by germs like Crypto (short
for Cryptosporidium), Giardia, E. coli 0157:H7 and Shigella, and are
spread by accidentally swallowing water that has been contaminated
with fecal matter. If someone with diarrhea contaminates the water,
swallowing the water can make you sick. Most germs are killed by
chlorine, but some germs, like Crypto, are resistant to chlorine and
can live in pools for days. That is why even the best-maintained
pools can spread illnesses.
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The best way to prevent recreational water illnesses is to keep
germs out of the water in the first place.
Follow these healthy swimming steps:
For all swimmers:
Don't swim when you have diarrhea.
Don't swallow pool water.
Practice good hygiene. Shower with soap before swimming and wash
your hands after using the toilet or changing diapers. Germs on your
body end up in the water.
For parents of young children:
Take your kids on bathroom breaks or check diapers often. All
children who are not toilet-trained should wear tightly fitting
rubber or plastic pants.
Change diapers in a bathroom or a diaper-changing area, and not
Wash your children thoroughly (especially the rear end) with soap
and water before they go swimming.
Illness can also be caused by an
improper chemical balance in pools, water parks and spas and can be
identified by burning eyes, nose and lungs. The following are things
you can look for to prevent illness:
Clean and clear pool water -- You should be able to clearly see
any painted stripes and the bottom of the pool.
Smooth pool sides -- Tiles should not be sticky or slippery.
No odor -- A well-chlorinated pool has little odor. A strong
chemical smell indicates a maintenance problem.
Pool equipment working -- You should hear pool pumps and
filtration running and feel water coming into the pool from
Skimmers or gutters should not be flooded, but have a thin layer
of water running over the edge.
For more information about recreational water illness prevention,
Department of Public Health file received from
Illinois Office of
Communication and Information]