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Safe Swimming

2016 National Healthy and Safe Swimming Week marks 12th anniversary 

The week before Memorial Day has been designated as National Healthy and Safe Swimming Week, May 23-29. This year marks the 12th anniversary of this observance.

Healthy and Safe Swimming week will focus on simple steps for swimmers and pool operators to use in order to ensure a healthy swimming experience for everyone. Richland Public Health encourages the public to reduce risks this summer by embracing these steps aimed at preventing drowning and the spread of germs that cause recreational water illnesses.

Preventing Drowning

Drowning is preventable. Each year thousands die and more are left with long-term consequences including memory problems, learning disabilities and permanent loss of basic functioning (e.g., permanent vegetative state).  To reduce the risk of drowning:

Learn to swim. Be sure everyone knows how to swim and that older children and adults know CPR.

Use life jackets. When in or near the water, keep younger or weaker swimmers safe by using life jackets that fit.

Keep a close watch. Provide continuous, attentive supervision close by swimmers even if there is a lifeguard on duty.

Avoid alcohol and drugs when swimming or watching swimmers.

Prevent access to the water. Install and maintaining fencing and barriers. Consider for pools a 4' sided fence with 4" or less gaps and weight-bearing covers. Use locks or alarms for windows and doors.

For more information about drowning prevention, visit

Preventing Recreational Water Illnesses

Recreational water illnesses (RWIs) are caused by germs spread by swallowing, breathing in mists or aerosols of, or having contact with contaminated water in swimming pools, hot tubs, water parks, water plays areas.

RWIs are also preventable, but prevention requires swimmers to take an active role in protecting themselves and other swimmers. Research shows that health education campaigns are likely an effective way to increase swimmer awareness and encourage healthy swimming behaviors.

Simple steps swimmers can take to help prevent the spread of germs that cause RWIs include:

Don't swim when you have diarrhea. You can spread germs in the water and make others sick.

Don't swallow pool water.  Avoid getting water in your mouth.

Practice good hygiene. Shower with soap before swimming and wash your hands after using the toilet or changing diapers. Germs on your body end up in the water.

Parents of young children should remember to:

Wash their children before swimming (especially their rear ends).Germs can spread in and around the pool.

Check diapers every 30–60 minutes. Change diapers in a bathroom or a diaper-changing area and not at poolside.

Take your kids to the bathroom every 30–60 minutes. Waiting to hear "I have to go" may mean that it's too late.

For more information about healthy swimming, visit ttp://

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