Nashville, TN – As summer vacations begin, many people will be traveling and enjoying outdoor activities, but before you enjoy time at the pool, ocean or other swimming destination, the Tennessee Department of Health reminds you to think water safety first.
‘’Having fun and enjoying physical activity in and around water is a joy for children of all ages and staying safe from illness and injury in the process is something we all want to do,” said TDH Commissioner John Dreyzehner, MD, MPH.”This is a good time to remember to keep even clean-appearing water out of our mouths, use flotation devices in the deep open waters of beautiful Tennessee lakes and be aware of other hazards to you and others, especially children,” stated Dreyzehner.
Recreational water illnesses, or RWIs can be caused by germs spread to people by swallowing water or having contact with contaminated water in swimming pools, water parks, hot tubs, fountains, lakes, rivers, springs, ponds or oceans. Bacteria, viruses and parasites from swimmers can end up in the water and can make you and other people sick.
‘’The best way to prevent RWIs is by taking steps to keep germs out of the pool or other swimming places,” said Deputy State Epidemiologist John Dunn, DVM, PhD. ‘’It’s very important not to swallow the water you swim or play in and to be aware of the physical hazards in and around pools and lakes.”
Follow these tips to help prevent RWIs:
- Don’t swim if you have diarrhea
- Shower with soap before and after swimming
- Wash your hands after using the toilet or changing diapers
- Take children on frequent bathroom breaks or check diapers often
- Check and change diapers in a bathroom or a diaper-changing area, not at poolside
- Don’t swallow the water where you swim
- Read and follow directions for pool chemical use and storage
Drowning is the second leading cause of death in children under the age of five. In Tennessee in 2014, 80 people died from drowning including 17 under the age of 17. Near-drowning incidents leave many with long-term consequences including memory problems, learning disabilities and other permanent physical disabilities.
Follow these tips to reduce the risk of drowning:
- Make sure everyone knows how to swim
- If swimming in a lake or pond, do not dive without first checking the water depth and looking for underwater hazards.
- Match your water activity to your ability level
- When operating a boat with an inboard motor, do not swim near the exhaust because of carbon monoxide exposure risk.
- Use life jackets appropriately
- Provide constant, attentive supervision close to swimmers, even if a lifeguard is present
- Know CPR
- Don’t use alcohol and drugs when swimming or watching swimmers
- Discourage horseplay and stunts
- Install and maintain barriers around pools including fences and weight-bearing covers
- Use locks or alarms for windows and doors
For more information about healthy and safe swimming, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Healthy Swimming website www.cdc.gov/healthywater/swimming/ and the TDH Waterborne Illness Prevention website at www.tn.gov/health/topic/waterborne-illness-prevention.
About the Tennessee Department of Health
The mission of the Tennessee Department of Health is to protect, promote and improve the health and prosperity of people in Tennessee. TDH has facilities in all 95 counties and provides direct services for more than one in five Tennesseans annually as well as indirect services for everyone in the state, including emergency response to health threats, licensure of health professionals, regulation of health care facilities and inspection of food service establishments.
Learn more about TDH services and programs at www.tn.gov/health