How not to get sick after swimming this summer

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With the swimming season here, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is encouraging residents to maximize the health benefits of swimming with healthy and safe habits.

For the years 2012-2016, eleven outbreaks reported in Michigan were linked to swimming in treated and untreated water locations including pools, hot tubs, and freshwater lakes. More than 600 estimated recreational water illnesses, confirmed or suspected, were reported, which is likely an underestimate.

While chlorine and other disinfectants kill many germs within minutes, some germs can survive for days even when water is treated appropriately. For that reason, it’s important to keep germs, pee, poop, sweat and dirt out of the water we swim in. In addition to making us sick, these materials can combine with chlorine and form chemicals that can make our eyes red and trigger asthma attacks.

Everyone plays a role in preventing pool-related illnesses caused by germs. It’s just as important to prevent pool-related injuries such as drowning or those caused by mishandling pool chemicals.

Here’s what you can do to keep your family safe and healthy this swimming season:

  • Keep germs out of the water:
    Stay out of the water if you have diarrhea.
    Shower before you get in the water.
    Don’t pee or poop in the water and take your children on hourly bathroom breaks to keep them from doing the same: Every hour—everyone out!
  • Keep swimmers safe in the water:
    Make sure everyone knows how to swim.
    Use life jackets appropriately.
    Provide continuous, attentive supervision close to swimmers.
    Know CPR.
  • Use chemicals safely in your pools:
    Read and follow directions on product labels.
    Open chemical containers safely, using proper protective equipment, in a well-ventilated area.
    NEVER mix different pool chemicals with each other, especially chlorine products with acid.
    Add pool chemical to water, NEVER water to pool chemical.
    Store pool chemicals securely.

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