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Water, Water, Everywhere, But Is It Safe to Swim?
What Causes Recreational Water Illnesses?
Swimming Pools, Water Parks, and Hot Tubs
A Day at the Beach
- Which beaches do you monitor and how often?
- Where can I see the test results and who can explain them to me?
- What are the primary sources of pollution that affect this beach?
- Don't swim after a heavy rainstorm.
- Avoid swimming near storm drains when you are at the beach.
- If your beach is a no-discharge zone for vessel sewage, investigate whether pump-out facilities are available for boats.
- Be aware of trash and signs of pollution, such as oily water.
- If you think your local beach is contaminated, contact health or environmental protection officials.
- Work with authorities to create a beach monitoring program.
The Six Steps for Healthy Swimming
- Do not swim, or allow your child to swim, if either of you has diarrhea. Contrary to popular belief, diapers—even those designed for swimming—do not prevent fecal matter from leaking into the water. Allowing your kids to swim with diarrhea, or doing so yourself, may easily spread germs that could make you, your children, or others sick.
- Do not drink the water, and if possible, try to avoid getting it in your mouth. Children should be instructed that this water is not for drinking.
- Bathe with soap before swimming and wash your hands after using the toilet or after changing a baby’s diaper.
- Take your children to the bathroom often. “Mommy, I have to…” may come too late to prevent an accident.
- Change your children’s diapers in the bathroom or in a designated changing area, not by the side of the pool.
- Bathe your children thoroughly before they get in the water. The cleaner your children, the cleaner the water. Rinse after getting out as well.
US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention http://www.cdc.gov
US Environmental Protection Agency http://www.epa.gov
Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca
Public Health Agency of Canada http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca
Before you go to the beach. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/pdf/swimming/resources/epa-before-you-go-to-beach-brochure.pdf. Accessed May 1, 2014.
Healthy swimming/recreational water. United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/healthyswimming. Updated Updated April 8, 2014. Accessed May 1, 2014.
Hyperchlorination to kill cryptosporidium. US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/pdf/swimming/pools/hyperchlorination-to-kill-cryptosporidium.pdf. Accessed May 1, 2014.
Steps of healthy swimming: protection against recreational water illnesses (RWIs). United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/swimming/protection/steps-healthy-swimming.html. Updated May 16, 2013. Accessed May 1, 2014.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 05/2014
- Update Date: 05/06/2014