Health department urging everyone to practice healthy swimming behaviors to prevent germs, illnesses from spreading

OKLAHOMA CITY – As the temperatures continue to rise, the Oklahoma State Department of Health is urging everyone to practice healthy swimming behaviors to prevent germs and sickness from spreading.

Health officials say the average swimmer introduces many dirty items into recreational water including hair, feces, urine, and sweat, as well as skin products such as lotions, cosmetics and soaps.

Germs in the water can lead to illness in both adults and children.

The week prior to Memorial Day, May 21-27, is designated nationally as National Healthy and Safe Swimming Week.

Healthy swimming behaviors can prevent recreational water illnesses (RWIs) such as Cryptosporidium, Giardia, Shigella, norovirus, and E. coli. RWIs are caused by swallowing or having contact with germs in contaminated water in swimming pools, hot tubs, water parks, water play areas, fountains, lakes, or rivers. These illnesses can also be caused by inhaling mists or aerosols from contaminated water.

Symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting, coughing, skin rash, and wound infections.

RWIs can be prevented by taking simple precautions.

Healthy swimming behaviors include the following:

  1. Stay out of the water if you have diarrhea. Germs spread in the water and make other people sick.
  2.  Shower before you get in the water.
  3. Don’t pee or poop in the water.
  4. Don’t swallow the water. Avoid getting water in your mouth to prevent swallowing germs.
  5. Every hour – everyone out. Take kids on bathroom breaks. Wash hands with soap and water after changing diapers and using the toilet.
  6. Diapered children: Children who are not yet toilet-trained should wear swim diapers in the pool and lake. Swim diapers & swim pants are not a substitute for frequent diaper changing and bathroom breaks. Check swim diapers and swim pants frequently, and change them away from the poolside. Wash your child thoroughly with soap and water before swimming, especially the diapered area.
  7. Pool operators: Check the free chlorine level and pH before getting into the water.

Click here for more information on waterborne illnesses.