BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – May 22 to 28 is the CDC’s “Healthy and Safe Swimming Week”- and the Erie County Health Commissioner’s Office has some tips to stay safe as you have fun in the sun this summer.
Erie County commissioner of health Dr. Gale Burstein said that the goal of Healthy and Safe Swimming Week is to maximize the health benefits of water-based physical activity while minimizing the risk of recreational water–associated illness and injury.
“We all share the water we swim in, and we each need to do our part to keep ourselves, our families, and our friends healthy,” Burstein said.
Recreational water illnesses (RWIs) are caused by germs spread by swallowing, breathing in mists, or having contact with contaminated water in pools, hot tubs, water parks, play areas, or outdoor bodies of water. RWIs can also be caused by chemicals in the water. The most common RWI is diarrhea, often caused by germs like Crypto (short for Cryptosporidium), Giardia, norovirus, Shigella, and E. coli O157:H7. Other common RWIs include skin, ear, respiratory, eye, neurologic, and wound infections. Children, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems are most at risk for RWIs.
To prevent the spread of RWIs, follow these tips:
- Stay out of the water if you have diarrhea.
- Shower before you get in the water.
- Do not substitute the pool for the toilet
- Do not 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
“The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (“CPSC”) estimates that each year, nearly 300 children younger than five years drown in swimming pools and spas and an additional 4,000 children that age present to hospital emergency departments for non-fatal submersion injuries,” Burstein said. “An unknown number of these hospitalizations result in permanent disability, including brain damage- these deaths and injuries are entirely preventable.”
To keep your family safe from water related injuries or drowning, the health commissioner has these tips:
- Never leave a child unattended in or near a pool or spa and always watch your children closely around all bodies of water.
- Designate a Water Watcher to supervise children in the pool or spa. This person should not be reading, texting, using a smart phone or be otherwise distracted. Adults can take turns being a Water Watcher.
- Teach children basic water safety tips.
- If a child is missing, look for him or her in the pool or spa first.
- Keep children away from pool drains, pipes and other openings to avoid entrapments.
- Ensure any pool and spa you use has drain covers that comply with federal standards (if you do not know, ask your pool service provider whether the covers are in compliance)
- Learn how to swim and teach your child how to swim.
- Learn how to perform CPR on children and adults, and update those skills regularly.
- Install a four-foot or taller fence around the perimeter of the pool and spa and use self-closing and self-latching gates; ask your neighbors to do the same at their pools.
- Install and use a lockable safety cover on your spa.
- Have lifesaving equipment such as life rings, floats or a reaching pole available and easily accessible.