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Stay Safe While Enjoying Water Activities This Summer

By Mirna Chamorro

May 19, 2020

Sanford, Fla. - The week before Memorial Day, May 18-24, is Healthy and Safe Swimming Week. The Florida Department of Health in Seminole County would like to remind families to take precautions while participating in recreational water related activities this summer. Everyone plays a role in preventing illnesses and injuries related to the water we swim, play, relax in, and share - this summer and year-round.

"It is important for families to stay safe while enjoying water activities. To prevent injuries and illness, avoid mishandling pool chemicals, shower before swimming in pools, always supervise children, never swim alone, teach children not to swallow water while swimming and to use nose clips while enjoying fresh water activities," said Donna Walsh, health officer for the Florida Department of Health in Seminole County.

Tips for Healthy Swimming:

Before getting in:

  • Don't swim or let others swim if sick with diarrhea.

  • Shower for at least 1 minute before you get into the water to remove dirt or anything else on your body.

    • Chlorine mixed with dirt, sweat, pee, and poop creates chemicals that make swimmers' eyes red and sting. When chlorine mixes with dirt, sweat, pee, and poop, there is less chlorine available to kill germs.

Once you are in:

  • Don't swallow the water.

  • Don't pee or poop in the water.

  • Take kids on bathroom breaks and check diapers every hour. Change diapers away from the poolside to keep germs from getting in the water.

  • Dry ears thoroughly with a towel after swimming.

In fresh water such as lakes, ponds, rivers, creeks and hot springs, one illness of concern is the ameba called Naegleria fowleri. It also can be present in poorly maintained swimming pools and hot tubs. The infection it causes called Primary Amebic Meningoencephalitis (PAM) is almost always fatal. The infection occurs when water containing the ameba enters the nose and then invades the brain.

Signs and symptoms of N. fowleri infection include headache, fever, nausea, vomiting, and stiff or painful neck occurring within 1 to 14 days from the water activity. If you experience any of these symptoms after recreational water activities, seek immediate medical attention. It is important to inform the medical staff of water exposure. Immediate detection, proper diagnosis, and medical treatment is important for survival.

The best way to prevent infection is to avoid water-related activities in warm fresh water. Keeping your head out of the water, holding your nose shut or using nose clips when engaging in recreational freshwater activities may also decrease your chances of acquiring this infection. Visit http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/naegleria/index.html for more information.

Each day, approximately two children less than 15 years old die from drowning. Drowning is the leading cause of injury-related death for children 1 - 4 years old. Families can take the following steps to help prevent drowning and other water related injuries: Make sure everyone has basic swim skills and water safety awareness, use life jackets, provide continuous supervision close to swimmers, prevent unsupervised access to pools, know how to recognize and respond to a swimmer in distress and how to perform CPR.

About the Florida Department of Health

The department, nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board, works to protect, promote and improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county and community efforts.

Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at @HealthyFla. For more information about the Florida Department of Health please visit www.FloridaHealth.gov.