The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) is participating in the annual Healthy and Safe Swimming Week, May 20-26, 2019, which is an initiative of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This year’s goal is to emphasize the importance of taking simple steps to prevent pool chemical injuries and promote healthy swimming habits. Healthy swimming is not just about the steps pool operators and pool inspectors take. Do your part to help keep yourselves, your families and friends healthy this summer and year-round.
Pool chemicals are added to maintain water quality and kill germs that may cause illness. Each year, however, mishandling pool chemicals when treating public or residential pools, hot tubs, spas and water playgrounds leads to 3,000–5,000 visits to U.S. emergency departments. To ensure a safe swimming environment, state and local standards specify how to maintain treated water venues.
ADPH encourages those who plan to participate in recreational water activities this season to take the following steps to prevent illness and injuries:
- Make sure everyone knows how to swim before participating in recreational water activities.
- Before getting in the water, do your own mini-inspection.
Use a test strip from your local retailer or pool supply store to check basic chemistry levels in pools and spas:
- Always follow the manufacturer’s directions
- PH: 7.2 – 7.8
- Free chlorine: at least 3 parts per million (ppm) in hot tubs and spas and at least 1 ppm in pools and water playgrounds
- Bromine: at least 4 ppm in hot tubs and spas and at least 3 ppm in pools and water playgrounds
- Shower before getting in the water.
- Stay out of the water if sick with diarrhea.
ADPH also encourages safe swimming habits when enjoying natural waters:
- If a person has open wounds, cuts, abrasions and sores, stay out of the water. In brackish and warm sea water, such as bay or gulf waters, Vibriobacteria occur naturally. These bacteria can cause disease in people who eat contaminated seafood and in those with open wounds that are exposed to seawater.
- If a person gets a cut while in the water, immediately wash the wound with soap and fresh water. If the wound shows any signs of infection (redness, pain or swelling) or if the cut is deep, get medical attention immediately.