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Posted: Thu, 15 May 2014 13:42 CDT
Category: General Health

Staying Safe and Healthy in the Water

Each year, the week before Memorial Day has been designated National Recreational Water Illness and Injury Prevention Week. This year’s observance, May 19-25, 2014, marks its tenth anniversary. The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) urges all Iowans to take simple steps to ensure healthy and safe swimming for everyone. Each of us has a responsibility to protect ourselves, our loved ones, and those around us from unsafe swimming conditions.

“Nationally, drowning is the leading cause of unintentional injury death in children between 1 and 5 years of age,” said John Kelly, IDPH Environmental Engineer. “While lifeguard supervision may be provided at many facilities, the direct supervision by parents or caregivers is the first layer of protection for young children and non-swimmers whenever they are in or around water.” Parents and caregivers can help keep children safe in and around water by following these safety tips:

· Children 5-years-old and younger should be within arm’s reach at all times.

· Directly supervise all young children and non-swimmers that you bring to the pool by keeping them within eyesight at all times.

· Coast Guard-approved life jackets can offer an additional layer of protection, but they are not a substitute for direct supervision of children.

· Know CPR

Homeowners with pools and pool operators should:

· Prevent access to water when pool is not in use.

· Install and maintain barriers, like four-sided fencing and weight-bearing pool covers.

· Use locks/alarms for windows and doors.

· Check the chlorine level and pH with test strips before getting into water; proper chlorine levels (1-3 mg/L or parts per million [ppm]) and pH (7.2-7.8) maximize germ-killing power.

All swimmers should:

· Stay out of the water if you have diarrhea.

· Shower with soap before you start swimming.

· Refrain from pooping or peeing in the water.

· Be careful not to swallow the water.

In addition, parents of young children should take children on bathroom breaks every 60 minutes, or check diapers every 30-60 minutes.

There are 1,555 pools, 299 water slides, and more than 400 spas at about 1,250 locations in Iowa that are inspected by local health departments and the IDPH. You can help keep these facilities healthy for your friends and neighbors with responsible behavior in and around the pools. For more information about Recreational Water Illness and Injury Prevention Week, visit

Contact Information: Shaela Meister at (515) 330-7840

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