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For Release: May 13, 2010
The week before Memorial Day has been designated National Recreational Water Illness (RWI) Prevention Week, May 24-30, 2010. The goal of this week is to highlight the simple steps swimmers and pool operators can take to ensure a healthy and safe swimming experience for everyone, according to public health officials at the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH).
RWIs are caused by germs spread by swallowing, breathing in the mists or aerosols of, or having contact with contaminated water from swimming pools, water parks, hot tubs, interactive fountains, water play areas, lakes, rivers, springs, ponds, or oceans.
Diarrhea is the most common RWI, and it is often caused by germs like Crypto (short for Cryptosporidium), Giardia, norovirus, Shigella, and E. coli O157:H7. Other common RWIs include skin, ear, respiratory, eye, neurologic, and wound infections. Children, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems are most at risk for RWIs.
“You can choose to swim healthy! Healthy swimming behaviors will help protect you and your kids from RWIs and help stop germs from getting in the pool in the first place,” said OSDH Acute Disease Service Chief Lauri Smithee.
Three steps that promote healthy swimming for all ages include:
Three healthy swimming steps for parents of young children include:
The OSDH Consumer Health Service licenses about 3,100 public bathing places and conducts about 10,000 inspections each year. “We also provide oversight and licensure for pool operators and those who oversee public water recreation areas,” said OSDH Consumer Protection Service Director Tressa Madden.
Madden recommends that pool operators be proactive and assure their pool staff learn about health and safety regulations. Training courses offered by Oklahoma’s county health departments can be found on the OSDH Web site by searching for “pool operator” at www.health.ok.gov.
Some safety and health tips for pool operators include:
Some major considerations for licensure include life safety and chemicals used to disinfect swimming pools, for example:
Some of the major differences between residential and commercial swimming pools are that residential pools have:
For more information about swimming pool and recreational water safety call the OSDH Consumer Protection Service at (405) 271-5243. For information about waterborne illnesses and diseases call the OSDH Acute Disease Service at (405) 271-4060. You can also check out these Web sites for more information: http://www.ok.gov/health/documents/Swimmers.pdf and http://www.cdc.gov/search.do?queryText=swimming+pool+safety&action=search
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