Water safety in pools, hot tubs, lakes and other bodies of water involves much more than simply learning how to swim. You can easily prevent water illnesses and injuries with a few simple, but oftentimes overlooked, precautions.
Preventing waterborne illnesses
- Treat pools and hot tubs with the proper chemicals to kill bacteria, parasites, viruses and other germs that cause waterborne illnesses, such as salmonella, E. coli, giardia and cryptosporidium. The warm water in hot tubs is especially prone to waterborne illnesses.
- Do not use poorly maintained pools or hot tubs.
- Avoid swimming in natural bodies of water that are not monitored for safety. Especially avoid stagnant water in which the germs that cause waterborne illnesses thrive better.
- Avoid getting swimming water in your mouth. Some pathogens, like cryptosporidium, can live for days even in properly chlorinated water. To prevent young children from drinking pool water, provide plenty of fresh drinking water to keep kids hydrated.
- Shower with soap before you go swimming. Your body can harbor germs such as E. coli that can contaminate the water and potentially infect other swimmers. Showering before swimming significantly reduces the number of germs you introduce to the water.
- Do not swim while sick, especially if you have diarrhea or other digestive illnesses. Accidental contamination of the water can happen when you are ill even if you shower first. Make sure that children who are sick also do not go swimming.
Other water safety tips
- Never swim alone. Always swim with a buddy who can provide assistance if you are injured or start to drown.
- Never let children swim without an adult supervising. Teach children never to go in the water alone. Use fences and locked gates around home pools to prevent children from entering without supervision.
- Keep toys out of pools when not in use to prevent kids from wandering in and drowning.
- Swim only in designated areas, preferably in areas supervised by life guards. Follow all posted signs and notices. Never swim in water marked with "no swimming" signs.
- Wear a properly fitted life jacket while boating. Make sure that children, especially children who are not experienced swimmers, also wear properly fitted life jackets.
- Do not drink alcohol while swimming or boating. Alcohol impairs your judgment, balance, coordination and ability to swim. You are more likely to drown if you have been drinking.
To make sure your pool is as safe as possible, contact an Atlanta-area pool specialist.