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pool safety first

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drowning is responsible for more deaths among children ages 1-4 than any other cause except birth defects. Among children ages 1-14, drowning remains the second-leading cause of unintentional injury-related death behind motor vehicle crashes.

Swim safely

  • Take swim lessons if you don’t know how to swim. Sign your kids up for lessons as soon as they are old enough.
  • Learn how to perform CPR on children and adults.
  • Swim near a lifeguard and never swim alone.
  • Don't swim in pools or beaches that are closed.
  • Don’t drink alcohol if you are swimming or watching children in the water.
  • Use floating toys like water wings and noodles for fun – not for safety. They should NOT be used in place of life jackets.
  • Watch out for rip currents at the beach. A rip current is when the water pulls you away from shore. If you get caught in a rip current, never fight it. If you find yourself in a rip current, swim parallel to the shore and at an angle.

Watch children carefully

  • Make sure at least one adult is watching when children are in or around the water. Never leave a child unattended.
  • Designate a water watcher to supervise children. This person should not be reading, texting, using a smart phone, or otherwise be distracted.
  • Watch all children in the water, even if they know how to swim.
  • Keep children away from pool drains, pipes and other openings to avoid entrapments.
  • Ensure any pool and spa you use has drain covers that comply with federal safety standards. Ask your pool service provider about safe drain covers if you are unsure.
  • If you have a pool, install 4-sided fencing that’s at least 4 feet high and separates the pool from the house or yard. Use self-closing and self-latching gates that open outward and are out of reach of children.

Check water and weather conditions before going swimming

  • Don’t swim in the ocean, lakes, or rivers after heavy rain. Water is more likely to be polluted after a rain storm.
  • Check for signs or warnings about bacteria or other pollution in the water.
  • Get out of the water right away if you hear thunder or see lightning. Strong winds can also be dangerous.

Take precautions against recreational water illness

  • Practice good hygiene to avoid getting a recreational water-borne illness. It is important to shower before swimming or using spray park features and always wash hands after using the toilet or changing diapers. Germs on one's body may get into the water.
  • Never drink the water when swimming or using spray park features and avoid getting water in your mouth. It is important to note that water at most spray parks is recycled and should not be consumed.
  • Do not use spray park features, swimming pools or beaches when you have diarrhea. This is especially important for infants and toddlers in diapers. This may spread germs in the water and make other people sick.
  • Take children for bathroom breaks and/or check their diapers often. Children's diapers should be changed in a bathroom and not near spray park features, swimming pools or beach areas to prevent the spread of germs and illness.

Parasites
Swimmer's itch, also called cercarial dermatitis, is a skin rash caused by an allergic reaction to certain parasites that infect some birds and mammals. These microscopic parasites are released from infected snails into fresh and salt water, such as lakes, ponds, and oceans used for swimming and wading. If the parasite comes into contact with a swimmer, it burrows into the skin causing an allergic reaction and rash. Swimmer's itch generally occurs during the summer months.

Blue Green Algae Blooms in Streams, Lakes and Ponds
What is a Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB)? Most algae are harmless and are an important part of the food web. Algae are naturally present in slow moving streams, lakes, marine waters and ponds in low numbers. Certain types can become abundant and form blooms under the right conditions. Some algae can produce toxins that can be harmful to people and animals. These are collectively called harmful algal blooms (HABs).

Algae blooms most frequently occur in nutrient-rich waters, particularly during hot, calm weather. Because it is hard to tell a harmful algae bloom from other algae blooms, we recommend avoiding contact with any floating rafts, scums, and discolored water.

Blue-green algae blooms can occur in freshwater lakes and ponds and can reduce the recreational value of a waterbody due to unpleasant appearances and odors and can cause a variety of ecological problems, such as reduced oxygen levels. They also have the potential to form harmful (toxic) blue-green algal blooms, although the factors that cause blue-green algae to produce toxins are not well understood.

Harmful blue-green algae blooms can cause health effects when people and animals come in contact with them. Symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, skin or throat irritation, allergic reactions or breathing difficulties. Blue-green algae can also produce toxins that affect the liver and nervous systems when water is consumed in sufficient quantities.

If you see a blue-green algae bloom, avoid it! Blue-green algae blooms may have the appearance of pea soup. People, pets and livestock should avoid contact with water that is discolored or has scums on the surface. Colors can include shades of green, blue-green, yellow, brown or red. If contact does occur, wash with soap and water or rinse thoroughly with clean water to remove algae.

Never drink untreated surface water, whether or not algae blooms are present. Untreated surface water may contain other bacteria, parasites or viruses, as well as algal toxins, that all could cause illness if consumed. People not on public water supplies should not drink surface water, even if it is treated, during an algal bloom because in-home treatments such as boiling or disinfecting water with chlorine or ultraviolet (UV) or water filtration units do not protect people from blue-green algal toxins. If washing dishes in untreated surface water is unavoidable, rinsing with bottled water may reduce possible residues. While we don't know if water containing low levels of blue-green algae toxins could leave residues on dishes, taking this precaution may help reduce possible exposures.

 

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