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Information Articles for the Paris TN and Henry County Tennessee area

Tennessee Department of Health says make a Healthy Splash this Summer; Share the Fun, Not the Germs

May 23, 2015 | Email This Post Print This Post
 

Tennessee Department of Health - TDOHNashville, TN – Many public pools in Tennessee and around the country open for the season on Memorial Day. While swimming is a fun way to be active and beat the heat, thousands of Americans get sick every year from germs found in pools and other swimming places.

The Tennessee Department of Health joins the observance of Healthy and Safe Swimming during the Memorial Day Weekend to spread the word about helping keep swimming sites safe and healthy.

Girl in swimming pool“We can all help keep our swimming areas safe by following a few easy steps,” said TDH Chief Medical Officer David Reagan, MD, PhD. “Taking precautions like showering before swimming and never letting children swim without supervision helps prevent illness and injuries.”

The theme for Healthy and Safe Swimming Week 2015 is Make a Healthy Splash: Share the Fun, Not the Germs! It focuses on the role of swimmers, site staff, pool owners and public health workers in preventing drowning, pool chemical injuries and outbreaks of illnesses. It also highlights the need for swimmers to be active in helping protect themselves and prevent the spread of germs.

Preventing Recreational Water Illness

Recreational Water Illnesses, or RWIs, are caused by germs spread to people by swallowing, breathing in vapors of, or having contact with contaminated water in swimming pools, water parks, hot tubs, fountains, lakes, rivers, springs, ponds or oceans. Germs on and in swimmers’ bodies end up in the water and can make other people sick.

RWIs can also be caused by chemicals in the water or chemicals that evaporate from water and cause indoor air quality problems. RWIs cause several types of health problems including gastrointestinal illness; eye infections and irritation; hepatitis; wound infections; skin infections; respiratory illness; ear infections and even neurologic infections.

Even healthy swimmers can get sick from RWIs, but young children, elderly people, pregnant women and those with weakened immune systems are especially at risk.

Illnesses and outbreaks associated with recreational water vary from year to year. In Tennessee in 2010, 14 people including four who were hospitalized were sickened in an outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 associated with a community swimming pool.

[320left]Illness caused by cryptosporidium and other waterborne pathogens has been on the rise in Tennessee and nationwide. Any illness or outbreak that may be caused by exposure to recreational water should be reported to your local health department.

“Taking steps to keep germs out of the pool is the best way to prevent RWIs,” said Deputy State Epidemiologist John Dunn, DVM, PhD. “Chlorine and other pool water treatments help but don’t kill germs instantly. A good way to protect ourselves is by not swallowing water from pools, lakes, rivers and other recreational water venues.”

Follow these tips to help prevent RWIs:

  • Don’t swim if you have diarrhea
  • Shower with soap before and after swimming
  • Wash your hands after using the toilet or changing diapers
  • Take children on frequent bathroom breaks or check diapers often
  • Check and change diapers in a bathroom or a diaper-changing area, not at poolside
  • Don’t swallow the water you swim in
  • Read and follow directions for pool chemical use and storage

Drowning Prevention

In Tennessee in 2014, 69 people died from drowning including 15 children*. Drowning is the top cause of injury death among children aged one to four nationwide and near-drowning incidents leave many others with long-term consequences including memory problems, learning disabilities and other permanent physical disability.

Follow these tips to reduce the risk of drowning:

  • Make sure everyone knows how to swim
  • Use life jackets appropriately
  • Provide constant, attentive supervision close to swimmers, even if a lifeguard is present
  • Know CPR
  • Don’t use alcohol and drugs when swimming or watching swimmers
  • Discourage horseplay and stunts
  • Install and maintain barriers around pools including fences and weight-bearing covers
  • Use locks or alarms for windows and doors

For more information about healthy and safe swimming, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Healthy Swimming website www.cdc.gov/healthywater/swimming/

About the Tennessee Department of Health

The mission of the Tennessee Department of Health is to protect, promote and improve the health and prosperity of people in Tennessee. TDH has facilities in all 95 counties and provides direct services for more than one in five Tennesseans annually as well as indirect services for everyone in the state, including emergency response to health threats, licensure of health professionals, regulation of health care facilities and inspection of food service establishments.

Learn more about TDH services and programs at http://health.state.tn.us/

*Provisional data

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