pool safety

Safety First!

by Virginia Thompson

Stay safe in your local pool.

Stay safe at your local pool.

Swimming at our local pool is one of my favorite summer activities.  As I recently reflected on the accomplishment of logging 1,000 laps annually for nearly a decade, it dawned on me we often don’t give a second thought to the water we’re swimming in.

Ironically, many of us have read the book Safety First to our preschoolers, but we may not think about safety when it comes to ourselves as adults.  This year, my fellow swimmers and I got an unexpected refresher lesson in pool safety.  After a horrific storm in June, our pool was closed for four days because there was no electricity to power the pumps that mix the chemicals to  keep our pool in compliance with our state’s safety standards for swimming pools.

Local social media was abuzz about the pool’s status. Once the electricity came back, pool staff continued pumping the water, and adding appropriate levels of chlorine and other chemicals to ensure the safety of swimmers. When the staff was certain the water could maintain the health standards for a full day and beyond, they allowed us back in the pool.

It was an unfortunate break for those of us trying to earn that recreational swimmer’s badge of honor – the 1,000 lap t-shirt – but no one objected to putting safety first.

Swimming pool staff add chlorine and other chemicals like algicides, to the water to kill bacteria, control algae, and clean the walls and bottom of the pool.  These antimicrobial pesticides, need to be added in Goldilocks quantities  that are “just right” –  with too little chlorine tankstreatment, swimmers can get sick; too much can cause harmful reactions to our skin or lungs from touching, breathing, or drinking the water.

Ever wonder about those chemicals? And, where and how pools keep them?  Because storing chlorine and other potentially dangerous chemicals is a serious concern for communities, EPA has resources to help people in our communities such as Local Emergency Planning Committees to make sure that the chemicals are handled, used, and stored safely, and that local responders are well prepared if an emergency occurs.

As I make it a point to get to the pool as often as possible as summer winds down, I know I’ll be thinking about everything that goes into keeping our water safe.

 

About the author:  Virginia Thompson works for EPA’s mid-Atlantic Region and is an avid swimmer.

 

 

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Take Some Common Sense With You When You Go To The Pool

About the author: Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and chairs EPA’s Multilingual Communications Task Force. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.

image of a toddler standing in a kiddie pool wearing sunglasses, a hat and a life jacketMemorial Day Weekend unofficially indicates the beginning of the summer season in the US Mainland. With this new season, many Americans resume another summer ritual—the trek to the neighborhood pool. Whether it’s at the end of a long work day or during the weekend, many eager children successfully drag their parents for some playtime at the pool. Don’t get me wrong. I love the summer! I enjoy warm sandy beaches and swimming in the pool. However, I don’t know if getting older has made me wiser or wary, but sometimes I think twice when going to the pool, especially kiddy pools, where there are too many diaper-clad children.

In researching the subject of this blog, I confirmed my suspicions. Across the United States, there has been an increase in the number of Recreational Water Illness (RWI) outbreaks during the past twenty years associated with swimming pools, water parks, hot tubs, and other bodies of water. You would think that the antimicrobials and chlorine used to treat pool water would be enough to keep the pools safe from some waterborne germs and bacteria such as Crypto (short for cryptosporidium) and E coli, to name a few.

The fact is you need much more than chemicals to purify the water. A good dose of common sense is essential. Here are some basic guidelines for healthy swimming: First of all—do not swim when you have diarrhea. Don’t let your children swim either if they have diarrhea since swimming will only help spread germs in the water and make others sick. Secondly, avoid swallowing pool water. This is sometimes easier said than done with little kids, but you have to teach them at an early age. Good hygiene practices are essential in and outside the pool. Take a shower before swimming. Wash your hands after using the toilet or changing diapers. Take your kids on bathroom breaks or diaper checks often even if they don’t mention the need to relieve themselves. By the time you hear “Mommy, I have to go”, it might be too late. Change diapers in a bathroom or diaper-changing area. Please don’t change them at poolside. Above all, please wash your child thoroughly (especially the rear end) with soap and water before swimming. Sounds simple, right? It’s common sense. With some simple steps, you can protect yourself, your family and friends. Oh, by the way, before you head to the pool or beach, don’t forget to put on the sunscreen! Enjoy the summer!

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Use su sentido común cuando vaya a la piscina

Sobre la autor: Lina M. F. Younes ha trabajado en la EPA desde el 2002 y está a cargo del Grupo de Trabajo sobre Comunicaciones Multilingües. Como periodista, dirigió la oficina en Washington de dos periódicos puertorriqueños y ha laborado en varias agencias gubernamentales.

image of toddler stanind in a kiddie pool wearing a hat, sunglasses and life jacketEl fin de semana del Día de la Recordación por los caídos en guerras de Estados Unidos indica el comienzo extraoficial de la época veraniega en el continente estadounidense. Y con esta nueva temporada, muchos estadounidenses reanudan otro ritual veraniego—la excursión a la piscina de la vecindad. Sea al final de una larga jornada de trabajo o durante el fin de semana, muchos niños entusiastas obligan a sus padres a llevarlos a la piscina para un momento de diversión. No lo tomen a mal. ¡Me encanta el verano! Me encantan las cálidas playas arenosas y nadar en la piscina. Sin embargo, con el pasar del tiempo, no sé si se trata de mayor sabiduría o cautela, pero a veces lo tengo que pensar dos veces antes de entrar al agua, especialmente las piscinas infantiles, cuando veo demasiados niñitos envueltos en pañales.

Al investigar el tema de este blog, confirmé mis sospechas. A través de Estados Unidos, ha habido un aumento en el brote de enfermedades relacionadas a las aguas de recreo (RWI, por sus siglas en inglés) en los últimos veinte años asociadas con las piscinas, parques acuáticos, piscinas de agua caliente y otros cuerpos de agua. Uno pensaría que los  antimicrobianos y el cloro usado para tratar el agua de las piscinas sería suficiente para mantener las piscinas seguras de algunos gérmenes y bacterias que se difunden en el agua como el Cripto el E coli.

La realidad es que se necesita algo más que las sustancias químicas para proteger el agua. Una buena dosis de sentido común es esencial. He aquí algunas pautas básicas para la natación sana. En primer lugar—no nade si usted tiene diarrea. Tampoco deje que sus hijos naden si tienen diarrea ya que el agua en la piscina servirá para transmitir los gérmenes y enfermar a los demás. En segundo lugar, evite tragar el agua de la piscina. Esto es algo que los niños pequeños muchas veces hacen inconscientemente, pero tiene que educarles sobre el tema a temprana edad. Las buenas prácticas de higiene son esenciales dentro y fuera de la piscina. Dúchese antes de nadar. Lávese las manos después de ir al baño o de cambiar pañales. Lleve a sus hijos al baño con frecuencia y cámbiele el pañal aún cuando no se lo pidan. Cuando ya los niños dicen tener los deseos de ir al baño, podría ser demasiado tarde. Cambie los pañales en el baño o en el área de cambio de pañales. No lo haga cerca de la piscina. Sobre todo, lave a su hijo (especialmente la parte trasera) con agua y jabón antes de nadar. Suena sencillo, ¿verdad? Es puro sentido común. Con unos pasos sencillos, usted puede protegerse a sí mismo, a su familia y amistades. Y por cierto, antes de ir a la piscina o la playa, ¡acuérdese de la crema de protección solar! Disfrute el verano.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.