Every year, thousands of Americans get sick from germs spread from swallowing, breathing in mists or coming into contact with shared bodies of contaminated water: in backyard swimming pools and hot tubs, public water parks and interactive fountains or in natural lakes, rivers, even oceans.
Diarrhea is the most common infection, but recreational water illnesses also can lead to skin, ear, respiratory, eye, neurologic and wound infections, according to the Department of Health in Orange and Seminole counties in Florida.
A key to healthy summers starts with the backyard swimming pool:
• To keep the water free of illnesses, check chlorine and pH levels before entering the water. Even though chlorine isn’t enough to keep pools illness-free, proper levels maximize germ-killing power.
• Don’t swallow the water you swim in.
• Parents of small children should take youngsters on bathroom trips every hour and check diapers every 30 to 60 minutes.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommends these guidelines for a healthy swim:
• Don’t swim when you have diarrhea; avoid it until all symptoms have passed.
• Shower with soap before you start swimming.
• Take a rinse shower before you get back into the water.
• Take bathroom breaks every 60 minutes.
• Wash your hands after using the toilet or changing diapers.
— Colleen Wright