Q: Summer will be here legally next week, school is almost over, and every kid and some adults will be looking for a swimming pool. But, is water safety something more than "drown-proofing"?
A: Far be it for me to minimize the risks of drowning, but today I wanted to talk a bit about what the public health people call recreational water illnesses. These are contagious illnesses we catch in hot-tubs, pools, ponds, lakes and even oceans, ranging from mild skin irritation to diarrhea that could lead to hospitalization. The organisms involved run – no pun intended- from giardia, infamous in the Pittsfield water supply, to the dangerous E.coli noted for hamburger and fresh vegetable contamination. A pool concentrates the risk.
Q: But in pools we use chlorine. Doesn't that offer some protection?
A: For sure, the presence of chlorine in standard amounts and at the right pH, which is a measure of acidity, does offer protection, but chlorine takes time to work- usually about an hour. One unchanged diaper in a small pool could produce a small epidemic in less time than that. With some common sense rules, and some supervision, we can prevent a lot of inconvenience.
Q: So, what are your suggestions?
A: The federal Center for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC has a set of rules for a healthy pool- and I have posted the web address with detailed information on the station web site. A quick summary is:
- Don't swim with diarrhea
- Don't swallow the water
- Shower and wash bottoms well before swimming
- Do frequent bathroom breaks and diaper checks for small children
- Change diapers in a bathroom and wash bottoms again
The more pool users and the younger they are, and the smaller the pool, the more careful you need to be. Now, have a waterbug-free and fun filled swimming season!
CDC Website: http://www.cdc.gov/healthyswimming/index.htm