Swim Safely This Holiday Weekend and All Summer

OSWEGO – The Oswego County Health Department’s Environmental Division marks Healthy and Safe Swimming Week from May 18 to 24.

“We want people to enjoy the season and maximize the health benefits of swimming by promoting safe practices,” said Oswego County Public Health Director Jiancheng Huang. “We each play a role in preventing accidents such as drowning, injuries from improper handling of pool chemicals, and illnesses caused by germs in the places we swim.”

When chlorine combines with dirt and bodily excretions, certain types of chloramines form and cause a strong chemical smell.

They can irritate the eyes and respiratory tract and aggravate asthma.

Cryptosporidium, or Crypto, is the leading cause of disease outbreaks linked to swimming pools. This disease-spreading parasite can survive even in a properly chlorinated pool for more than 10 days.

Between 2011 and 2012, over 70 outbreaks were found in pools, water playgrounds and hot tubs or spas.

Half of these cases were caused by Crypto.

“These statistics remind us that the water we share and swim in is not germ-free, even if the levels of chlorine and other water treatments are well maintained,” added Huang. “That’s why it is so important for each of us to do our part to keep ourselves, our families and our friends healthy.”

To help prevent chloramines from forming and to protect your health and the health of your family and friends, here are a few simple and effective steps to take each time you swim:

• Stay out of the water if you have diarrhea.
• Shower before you get in the water.
• Don’t go to the bathroom in the water.
• Don’t swallow the water.
• Get everyone out of the pool every hour.
• Take kids on bathroom breaks.
• Check diapers and change them in a bathroom or diaper changing area to keep germs away from the pool.
• Reapply sunscreen.
• Drink plenty of fluids.

These steps will help you minimize the risk of illness and maximize the health benefits and pool enjoyment.

Healthy swimming is not just about the steps that pool operators and inspectors take; it’s about everyone doing their part to maintain healthy practices this summer and year-round.

To learn more about healthy swimming, visit www.cdc.gov/healthywater/swimming

For additional information, including drowning prevention, safe use of pool chemicals, injury prevention, and bathing beach water quality, contact the Oswego County Health Department at 349-3557.