Swimming Safety

Delaware County Intercommunity Health officials educate swimmers about pool-related illnesses

During the summer months, swimming pools are filled with people having fun and staying cool, but people should be aware of recreational water illnesses (RWIs) and take measures that can prevent these illnesses.

The Delaware County Department of Intercommunity Health offers information supplied by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to help keep families safe when using swimming pools, spas, lakes and rivers where recreational water illnesses can cause a wide variety of symptoms.

Delaware County officials recommend that swimmers take measures that will reduce the risk of getting an infection at the pool or hot tub. Pool-related infections are mostly gastrointestinal, but skin, ear and eye infections can also occur. Chlorination does kill many of the organisms, but some organisms can survive for hours or even days and be infectious during that period.  This is why even the best maintained pools could spread illness.

Intercommunity Health has sent out a mailing to all 143 public swimming pools in Delaware County licensed through the Pennsylvania Department of Health in an effort to remind pool operators about the importance of educating their staff as well as swimmers about RWI prevention.

According to the CDC, recreational water illnesses (RWIs) are caused by germs like crypto, giardia, E.coli and shigella, and are spread by accidentally swallowing water that has been contaminated with fecal matter.

The CDC makes the following recommendations on their Healthy Swimming Web site:

  • Do not swim when you have diarrhea. This is especially important for kids in diapers. You will spread the germs and make other people sick.
  • Do not swallow pool water. Avoid getting any water in your mouth.
  • Practice good hygiene. Take a shower before swimming. Wash your hands after using the restroom or changing diapers
  • Parents of young children should take them on regular bathroom breaks and check diapers often. Change diapers in the bathroom, not at poolside. Wash children thoroughly before they swim.

It is advised that people who experience symptoms of a gastrointestinal infection after swimming in a public place contact their physician.

For information on Healthy Swimming behaviors, people can visit the Delaware County Web site at www.co.delaware.pa.us or visit the CDC site at www.cdc.gov/healthyswimming.