The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) participated in the annual Healthy and Safe Swimming Week, May 24-30, an initiative of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The goal of this week is to maximize the health benefits of swimming by promoting healthy and safe water activities.

Just 2.5 hours of water-based or other forms of physical exercise 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.

A new CDC report shows that during 2015–2019, more than 200 outbreaks were linked to pools, hot tubs and water playgrounds. Cryptosporidium (or Crypto) can make swimmers sick if they swallow just a mouthful of contaminated water. Although most germs are killed within minutes by chlorine or bromine at the recommended levels, Crypto is a germ that can survive in properly treated water for more than seven days. To protect swimmers’ health and safety, utilizing pool and spa water test strips will help to monitor chlorine and pH levels of swimming pools and hot tubs to decrease exposure to germs.

Drownings are the leading cause of injury or death for young children ages 1 to 14, and three children die every day because of drowning. Parents can play a key role in protecting their children and pets by:

• Making sure to watch children and pets while they are in the pool. 

• Fencing off the pool when not in use.

• Ensuring children wear life jackets in and around natural bodies of water, such as lakes or the ocean, even if they know how to swim.

ADPH encourages those who plan to participate in recreational water activities during this season to take some of the following steps to prevent waterborne illnesses and diarrheal disease:

Before getting in:

• Don’t swim or let others swim if sick with diarrhea.

• Shower for at least 1 minute before you get into the water to remove dirt or anything else on your body.

• Chlorine mixed with dirt, sweat, pee and poop creates chemicals that make swimmers’ eyes red and sting.

• When chlorine mixes with dirt, sweat, pee, and poop, there is less chlorine available to kill germs.

Once you are in:

• Don’t swallow the water.

• Don’t pee or poop in the water.

• Take kids on frequent bathroom breaks and check diapers every hour.

• Change diapers away from the water to keep germs from getting in.

• Dry ears thoroughly with a towel after swimming.

For more information on Healthy and Safe Swimming Week, visit the https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/swimming/safe-swimming-week/index.htmlor for general healthy swimming guidelines, visit:  https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/swimming/.

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