May 22, 2014
Recreational Water Illness And Injury Prevention Week 2014
Every year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) hosts Recreational Water Illness and Injury Prevention Week. This year, it is happening right now, this week before Memorial Day. The theme for this year is “We’re In It Together.” The idea is to remind us all that water safety is the responsibility of the all of us: swimmers, aquatics and beach staff, residential pool owners, and public health officials alike.
As one of the most popular sports activities, swimming is a part of many people’s summers, so it is important to know how to do so safely in order to avoid illness and injury. For many, Memorial Day marks when they first start to enjoy swimming, be that at the lake, a river, a pond, or in a pool. Recreational Water Illness and Injury Prevention Week is all about helping us to swim safely.
The CDC article breaks down how to be safe in three categories: prevent illness, prevent drowning, and prevent pool chemical injuries. Let’s take a look at what they say about each.
Though pools tend to have chemicals like chlorine, they are not 100 percent germ free. Partially this is because disinfectant chemicals do not always kill germs upon immediate contact. Furthermore, natural bodies of water like lakes, ponds, and rivers simply do not have chemical disinfectants like chlorine, so it is important to know how to avoid illness.
The first suggestion by the CDC is to keep poop, germs, and pee out of water. These carry different germs and bacteria that can make people ill pretty quickly. Here’s what they suggest to help keep these three out of the water:
- Don’t swim when you have diarrhea.
- Shower with soap before you start swimming. – Take a rinse shower before you get back into the water.
- Take bathroom breaks every 60 minutes.
- Wash your hands after using the toilet or changing diapers.
Informing children of these will help them to establish good habits so that they continue on into adulthood.
The next way that the CDC focuses on helping people prevent illness is to check the free chlorine level and the pH before getting into the water. Too much or too little could be dangerous. This is pretty easy to do as all one has to do is go to any superstore, hardware store, or pool-supply store and purchase a pool test strip. For pools, the proper chlorine level is 1-3 mg/L or parts per million and the pH should be about 7.2-7.8 in order to maximize germ-killing properties. For those with hot tubs and spas the chlorine level should be 2-4 ppm or bromine level at 4-6 ppm while the pH should be 7.2-7.8.
The final way that the CDC advises people to avoid illness is to not swallow the water you swim in. Whether you swim in a pool or the lake or wherever, simply not swallowing the water will definitely help you to avoid illnesses.
As the leading cause of injury death of children ages 1-4, preventing drowning is pretty important. If one does not die, that person could suffer brain damage. The CDC says two things about how to prevent drowning. First, people need to make sure that all swimmers are safe in the water. We should make sure that everyone who is in the water knows how to swim, provide life jackets as needed, be attentive in our supervision of swimmers, and know CPR just in case. Second, the CDC says to prevent access to water when it is not being used. Having fences around the pool as well as weight-bearing pool covers and locks and alarms are al important.
Prevent Pool Chemical Injuries
Finally, the CDC provides information on how to prevent pool chemical injuries. Though chemicals are necessary to kill germs and bacteria, they can cause injury if they are not handled and stored properly. The CDC provides these guidelines:
- Read and follow directions on product labels.
- Wear appropriate safety equipment, such as goggles and masks, as directed, when handling pool chemicals.
- Secure pool chemicals to protect people and animals. – Keep young children away when handling chemicals.
- NEVER mix different pool chemicals with each other, especially chlorine products with acid.
- Pre-dissolve pool chemicals ONLY when directed by product label. – Add pool chemical to water, NEVER water to any pool chemical.
Swimming is a fun activity for many families and friends during the warm summer months; however, to avoid injury and illness, we must be aware, cautious, and informed. Recreational Water Illness and Injury Prevention Week focuses on how to help all swimmers have a good time in the water while also being safe and responsible. For more information on Recreational Water Illness and Injury, go to this other CDC webpage.
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