May 18, 2009
Pool Season Begins – Enjoy the Water, But Be Safe
May 18-24, 2009 National Recreational Water Illness Prevention Week
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – As swimming pools, water parks and beaches prepare to open for the season this upcoming Memorial Day weekend, Dr. Damon T. Arnold, Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) Director is encouraging safe pool preparation and healthy swimming behaviors to prevent related illnesses during National Recreational Water Illness Prevention Week.
“This summer, swimming pools will be filled with millions of people having fun and staying cool. But improper pool chemicals and germs may be in the water, which is why it is important to learn about recreational water illnesses and what you can do to protect yourself,” said Dr. Arnold.
The theme for this year’s Recreational Water Illness (RWI) Prevention Week focuses on injuries associated with pool chemicals. Pool chemicals are used to make the water safer to swim in by killing germs. However, these same pool chemicals can also cause injuries if they are not properly handled. This type of preventable injury leads to thousands of emergency room visits each year. Residential pool owners can protect themselves and swimmers by taking these key steps:
Improper chemical balance in pools, water parks and spas can be identified by burning eyes, nose and lungs. The following are things you can look for to prevent illness.
Recreational water illnesses (RWIs) are also caused by germs like Crypto (short for Cryptosporidium), Giardia, E. coli 0157:H7, and Shigella, and are spread by accidentally swallowing water that has been contaminated with fecal matter. You share the water with everyone in the pool. If someone with diarrhea contaminates the water, swallowing the water can make you sick. Most germs are killed by chlorine, but some germs, like Crypto, are resistant to chlorine and can live in pools for days. That is why even the best maintained pools can spread illnesses. Therefore, healthy swimming behaviors are needed to protect swimmers from RWIs and will help stop germs from getting in the pool in the first place. The following are six “PLEAs” that promote healthy swimming:
General safety precautions should also be taken when swimming such as wearing sunscreen and using caution on slick decks or near diving boards and water slides.
In order to minimize these risks, the Illinois Department of Public Health requires the state's 3,500 licensed swimming facilities to meet water quality and safety standards, including engineering design standards that apply to pools, spas, beaches, water supplies, bather preparation areas, and water treatment systems.
For more information about recreational water illness prevention visit http://www.idph.state.il.us/envhealth/swimmingpools.htm.
of Public Health
535 West Jefferson Street
Springfield, Illinois 62761
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