Make a Healthy Splash: Share the Fun, Not the Germs!

The week before Memorial Day (May 18-24, 2015) is Healthy and Safe Swimming Week. The goal of this week is to maximize the health benefits of swimming by promoting healthy and safe swimming. Just 2.5 hours of water-based (or other forms of) physical activity per week has health benefits across a lifetime. We each play a role in preventing illnesses (caused by germs in the water we share and swim in) and preventing injuries (such as drowning or those caused by mishandling pool chemicals).

Water-borne illnesses are caused by the germs in the places we swim

In 2011-2012, almost 100 outbreaks were linked to swimming. Remember, chlorine and other disinfectants kill most germs within minutes, but some can survive for days. Urine, feces, sweat, and dirt from swimmers’ bodies mix with chlorine and form chemicals that can make our eyes red and trigger asthma attacks. So it’s important to keep germs, urine, feces, sweat, and dirt out of the water we share and swim in.

Prevention Steps We Can All Take

  • Stay out of the water if you have diarrhea.
  • Shower before you get in the water
  • Don’t pee or poop in the water
  • Don’t swallow the water

Every hour – everyone out!

  • Take kids on bathroom breaks
  • Check diapers, and change them in a bathroom or diaper changing area – not poolside – to keep germs away from the pool
  • Reapply sunscreen
  • Drink plenty of fluids


Every day, two children less than 14 years old die from drowning. It is the leading cause of injury death for children 1-4 years old.

Prevention Steps We Can All Take:

Make sure everyone knows how to swim Keep Swimmers Safe in the Water

  • Use life jackets appropriately
  • Provide continuous, attentive supervision close to swimmers
  • Know CPR

Prevent access to water when pool is not in use.

  • Install and maintain barriers like 4-sided fencing and weight-bearing pool covers
  • Use locks/alarms for windows and doors

Injuries caused by mishandling pool chemicals (for pool operators and residential pool owners)

Pool chemicals are added to the water to kill germs and maximize disinfection. Each year, however, mishandling of pool chemicals by pool operators and residential pool owners leads to 3,000 – 5,000 visits to emergency departments across the U.S.

Prevention Steps We Can All Take

  • Read and follow directions on product labels
  • Wear appropriate safety equipment, such as goggles and masks, as directed, when handling pool chemicals.
  • Secure pool chemicals to protect people and animals.
  • Add pool chemicals poolside ONLY when directed by product label and when no one else is in the water.

Prevent violent, potentially explosive, reactions

  • NEVER mix different pool chemicals with each other, especially chlorine products with acid.
  • Pre-dissolve pool chemicals ONLY when directed by product label. Add pool chemical to water, NEVER water to pool chemical.