The Memorial Day weekend is the official time for remembering and honoring those who died while serving in the U.S. military. It’s also the opening weekend for many public and private outdoor water facilities and swimming pools. Since 2004, Healthy and Safe Swimming Week has been observed to bring awareness to water safety. Throughout the years, public health officials have used week to bring highlight measures related to preventing disease outbreaks associated with water activities, drowning, and pool chemical injuries.
The year’s Healthy and Safe Swimming Week will be observed of May 20 – 26, and the theme is Pool Chemistry for Healthy and Safe Swimming. Public health officials and other safe and healthy swimming advocates will be using the week to educate the public on maximizing the health benefits of swimming by minimizing the risk of illness and injury. “The City of St. Louis Department of Health wants everyone to know that we all have a role to play in preventing illness and injuries that can come from water related activities,” said Dr. Fredrick Echols, director of health for the City of St. Louis.
The Department of Health is reminding individuals to practice the following safety tips to increase their chances of having a healthy and safe swimming season:
- Check out the latest inspection score. You can typically find inspection scores online or onsite.
- Do your own mini-inspection. Use test strips to check disinfectant (chlorine or bromine) level and pH before getting in the water. Most superstores, hardware stores, and pool-supply stores sell test strips.
- Pool owners and operators should always read and follow directions on product labels of pool chemicals before using them.
- Shower before you get in the water. Rinsing off in the shower for just 1 minute helps get rid of most stuff that might be on swimmer’s body.
- Check yourself! Keep the pee, poop, sweat, blood, and dirt out of the water.
- Don’t swim or let children swim when sick with diarrhea
- Install and maintain barriers like 4-sided fencing.
- Never leave a child alone in or near water
- Don’t swallow the water. Just one mouthful of water with diarrhea germs can make you sick for up to 3 weeks.
The Department of Health is also cautioning individuals to protect themselves from the sun as summer draws near. We all need to protect ourselves from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. UV radiation is a major risk factor for most skin cancers.
- When outdoors seek shade under an umbrella, tree, or other shelter before you need relief from the sun.
- Use sunscreen with at least SPF 15 and UVA and UVB (broad spectrum) protection when outside. Apply generously 30 minutes before going outdoors. Remember to protect ears, nose lips, and the tops of feet. Cover up with long sleeves and long pants and skirts. Clothes made from tightly woven fabric offers the best protection. Hats and caps that shade the face, scalp, ears, and neck also provide great protection.
- Sunglasses protect eyes from UV rays. Look for glasses that wrap around and block as close to 100% of UV rays as possible.
Visit the CDC website at https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/observances/hss-week/index.html for addition information on Healthy and Safe Swimming Week and at https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/skin/basic_info/sun-safety.htm for more sunscreen safety information.
Department of Health
Immunizations and Public Health