By Tamas Mondovics
Memorial Day was, of course, the unofficial start of summer and the official opening day for many public pools. That is good news for young and old planning to spend some time at poolside during the next couple of months.
The season also means its is time to review some important safety tips, which the Tennessee Department of Health was also encouraging all to do during this year’s celebration of Healthy and Safe Swimming Week late last month.
“The best way to prevent illnesses associated with swimming is to keep germs out of our swimming areas,” said TDH Medical Epidemiologist Mary-Margaret Fill, MD. “We can all help do that with simple precautions like not swimming when sick, not swallowing swim water, showering before swimming and following directions for pool chemical use, which also helps prevent chemical injuries.”
Safety topics promoted this year by TDH include preventing chemical injuries, avoiding water illnesses, preventing drowning, keeping pools safe.
Please see each topic addressed below:
Prevent Chemical Injuries
• Read and follow directions on product labels
• Wear appropriate safety equipment such as goggles when handling pool chemicals
• Secure pool chemicals to protect people, particularly young children
• Add chemicals poolside ONLY when directed by product labels and when no one is in the water
• NEVER mix different pool chemicals with each other, particularly chlorine products and acid.
Avoid Water Illnesses
Follow these tips to help prevent water-related illness:
• Don’t swim or let your child swim if sick with diarrhea
• Check the pool’s latest inspection score
• Rinse off in the shower for at least one minute before swimming
• Wash your hands after using the toilet or changing diapers
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• Take children on frequent bathroom breaks and/or check diapers often
• Check and change diapers in a bathroom or diaper-changing area, not at poolside
• Don’t swallow the water you swim in
• Read and follow directions for pool chemical use and storage
Follow these tips to help reduce the risk of drowning:
• Make sure everyone knows how to swim
• Use life jackets as directed
• Provide continuous, attentive supervision close to swimmers, even if a lifeguard is present
• Know CPR
• Don’t use alcohol or drugs when swimming or watching swimmers
• Discourage horseplay and stunts
• Prevent access to water when the pool is not in use
TDH Helps Keep Pools Safe
Tennessee Department of Health environmentalists inspect all public pools in the state at least once per month while the pools are in operation. TDH also provides training to pool operators to help ensure compliance with laws and rules for pool
“Our environmental health specialists review plans for new public swimming pools and inspect public pools, spas and splash pads to make sure these areas meet sanitation, disinfection and safety standards,” said TDH Environmental Health Director Lori LeMaster, REHS. “Tennessee swimmers can stay safe and healthy by following posted pool rules, showering before entering a public pool and staying home and out of the water if they’re sick.”
Those with concerns about sanitation of a public pool can contact the local health department and ask for the environmentalist.
For more information about healthy and safe swimming, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Healthy Swimming website www.cdc.gov/healthywater/swimming/.
The mission of the Tennessee Department of Health is to protect, promote and improve the health and prosperity of people in Tennessee. Learn more about TDH services and programs at www.tn.gov/health.