Tips help pool-goers stay healthy this summer

Memorial Holiday weekend is traditionally the beginning of “pool” season.

I would like to encourage public and private pool owners/operators to consider the following health safety tips as they get their facilities open for the summer.

Diarrhea is the most common recreational water illness and can be caused by many germs, including Cryptosporidium, which can survive for days even in properly chlorinated pools.

The health department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offer the following tips for decreasing the risk of disease due to fecal matter in the water.

To reduce the risk of contracting or transmitting a recreational water illness, swimmers should:

  • Shower before and after getting in the water.
  • Avoid urinating or defecating in the water.
  • Stay out of the water if you have diarrhea and for two weeks after symptoms stop.
  • Avoid swallowing the water.
  • Check diapers and change them in a bathroom or diaper changing area–not poolside.
  • Take children on regular bathroom breaks.

Swimmers should take steps to avoid sunburn, injury and heat-related illnesses.

The health department was able to secure a supply of sunscreen and is currently giving it away free to anyone making a request, as long as the supply lasts. Some supplies have already been provided to the city pools, schools for summer athletics, REMC and Duke Energy linemen, Girl’s Club and Girls and Boys Clubs.

Safety tips for sun exposure and water safety include:

  • Use sunscreen with SPF 30 or greater, and reapply often.
  • Drink plenty of fluids.
  • Provide continuous, attentive supervision for swimmers to prevent drowning.
  • Never dive into above ground pools or shallow pools. Look for in-ground pool areas that are marked safe for diving.
  • Never dive into an ocean, lake, or river that is not clear.
  • Children should be only at arm’s length from an adult while in the water.

Pool noodles and water toys are not lifesavers; life jackets are and should be worn by young children and inexperienced swimmers at all times when around water.

Swimmers experiencing stomach cramps, diarrhea, vomiting, headache, fever, muscle weakness or difficulty breathing should seek medical attention.

Summer can be a great time for fun and relaxation, but care needs to be taken to ensure the safety of everyone during the season.

Dr. Chris Bunce is the Jackson County health officer.