May 25, 2016
NEWS RELEASE - GRAYS HARBOR ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 05-23-2016 LOCAL CONTACT: Eric Khambatta, R.S. (360) 249-4222
HEALTHY AND SAFE SWIMMING WEEK 2016
Grays Harbor County Division of Environmental Health — The week before Memorial Day (May 23–29, 2016) is Healthy and Safe Swimming Week. The goal of this Week is to maximize the health benefits of swimming by promoting healthy and safe swimming. Just 2.5 hours of water-based (or other forms of) physical activity per week has health benefits for everyone. Each of us plays a role in preventing illnesses and injuries linked to the water we share and swim in, this summer and year-round.
Why Is This Important?
Inspections of public pools, hot tubs/spas, water playgrounds, or other places with treated water:
To protect swimmers’ health and safety, state and local standards specify how to run public pools, hot tubs/spas, water playgrounds, and other places with treated water. Some state and local health departments have staff inspect these places, much like they inspect restaurants, to make sure the standards are met and the risk for illness and injury is minimized. Inspections should be posted onsite, much like they are in restaurants, and online.
However, inspections of public places where we swim in treated water are typically done only one to three times per year. To help protect your and your loved ones’ health and safety year-round, CDC recommends that swimmers and parents of young swimmers do their own quick inspection before getting into the water.
A Few Simple and Effective Prevention Steps We Can All Take:
Before getting into a public pool, hot tub/spa, water playground, or other place with treated water, do your own inspection. Check the following items if they pass your inspection.
- Water’s pH and free chlorine or bromine concentration are correct*.
- Drain at the bottom of the deep end is visible.
- Drain covers at the bottom appear to be secured and in good repair.
- Lifeguard is on duty. If not, safety equipment, such as a rescue ring or pole, is available.
If any of the above items are NOT checked off, do NOT get into the water. Tell the person in charge about the unchecked item(s), so the problem(s) can be fixed.
*Use test strips to test pH and free chlorine or bromine concentration. Most superstores, hardware stores, and pool-supply stores sell pool test strips. Follow the manufacturer’s directions. CDC recommends pH 7.2–7.8 and free available chlorine concentration of at least 3 ppm in hot tubs/spas and at least 1 ppm in pools and water playgrounds OR free available bromine concentration of at least 4 ppm in hot tubs/spas and at least 3 ppm in pools and water playgrounds.
Illnesses caused by the germs in the places we swim:
In 2011–2012, 90 outbreaks were linked to swimming. Chlorine and other disinfectants kill most germs within minutes, but some can survive for days. Pee, poop, sweat, and dirt from swimmers’ bodies mix with chlorine and form chemicals that can make our eyes red and even aggravate asthma. This mixing can also use up the chlorine, which would otherwise kill germs. So it’s important to keep germs, pee, poop, sweat, and dirt out of the water we share and swim in, this summer and year-round.
For more info, visit www.cdc.gov/healthyswimming
Every swimmer should:
• Stay out of the water if you have diarrhea.
• Shower before you get in the water.
• Don’t pee or poop in the water.
• Don’t swallow the water.
Every hour—everyone out!
• Take kids on bathroom breaks.
• Check diapers, and change them in a bathroom or diaper changing area—not poolside—to keep germs away from the pool.
Every day, two children younger than 14 years of age die from drowning. Drowning is a leading cause of injury death for children ages 1 to 4 years of age.
For more info, visit www.cdc.gov/HomeandRecreationalSafety/Water-Safety/waterinjuries factsheet.html
Keep swimmers safe in the water.
• Make sure everyone knows how to swim.
• Use life jackets appropriately.
• Provide continuous, attentive supervision close to swimmers.
• Know CPR.
Prevent access to water when pool is not in use.
• Install and maintain barriers like 4-sided fencing and weight-bearing pool covers.
• Use locks/alarms for windows and doors.
Injuries caused by mishandling pool chemicals (for pool operators and residential pool owners):
Pool chemicals are added to maintain water quality (for example, kill germs) and stop corrosion and scaling of equipment. Each year, however, mishandling of pool chemicals by operators of public pools and residential pool owners leads to 3,000–5,000 visits to emergency departments across the United States.
For more info, visit www.cdc.gov/healthywater/swimming/pools/preventing-pool-chemical-injuries.html
Pool operators and residential pool owners should:
• Read and follow directions on product labels.
• Wear appropriate safety equipment (for example, goggles), as directed on product labels when handling pool chemicals.
• Secure pool chemicals to protect people (especially young children) and animals.
• Add pool chemicals poolside ONLY when directed by product label and when no one is in the water.
Prevent violent, potentially explosive, reactions.
• NEVER mix different pool chemicals with each other, especially chlorine products with acid.
• Pre-dissolve pool chemicals ONLY when directed by product label.
o Add pool chemical to water, NEVER water to pool chemical.
Algae can grow in warm, nutrient-rich fresh and marine waters. When there is an abundant growth of algae that harms people, animals, or the local ecology, it is referred to as a harmful algal bloom (HAB). HABs in fresh and marine waters can produce toxins that have caused a variety of illnesses including skin irritation, coughing, sneezing, diarrhea, abdominal pain, numbness, and dizziness. Symptoms can vary depending on the type of HAB toxin and the type of exposure such as skin contact, ingestion by eating food or drinking water contaminated with HAB toxins, or breathing in tiny droplets or mist contaminated with HAB toxins.
Avoid water that contains harmful algae—when in doubt, stay out!
• Look for waterbody or beach advisories announced by local public health authorities or beach managers. If the beach is closed, stay out.
• Don’t swim, water ski, or boat in areas where the water is discolored or where you see foam, scum, or mats of algae on the water’s surface.
• Avoid entering or swimming in bodies of water that contain or are near dead fish or other dead animals.
• Keep children or pets from playing in or drinking scummy water.
• If you do swim in water that might contain harmful algae, get out and rinse off with fresh water as soon as possible afterward.
• If pets, especially dogs, swim in scummy water, rinse them off immediately. Do not let them lick the algae off of their fur.