2011-06-23 / Local & State

Tips For Safe Swimming And Healthy Pools

It’s pool season again – a time for pool parties and splashing with the kids. It’s also time to share tips on keeping swimming healthy and avoiding recreational water illnesses.

New research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on “swimmer’s ear” underscores the need for the public to play an active role in ensuring healthy pools. The study indicates “swimmer’s ear” accounts for 2.4 million doctor visits and nearly $500 million in health care costs annually. The CDC is encouraging swimmers to test pool water for proper chemistry.

To help keep swimming fun and healthy this summer, the Water Quality & Health Council is once again making free pool test kits available so swimmers can check pH and chlorine readings. According to the CDC, pools with proper pH and chlorine readings are less likely to harbor bacteria that cause “swimmer’s ear” and germs that cause other recreational water illnesses, including diarrhea and athlete’s foot. Free pool test kits are at www.healthypools.org/freeteststrips.

Last summer, the council provided more than 43,000 free pool test kits. Data submitted by swimmers who requested kits found that 40 percent of pools had unacceptable levels of chlorine or pH readings.

“We’re calling on swimmers to take active roles in keeping pools healthy. We want them to ‘dip before they dive.’ Before getting in a pool, swimmers should dip a color-coded test strip into the water to check its chemistry,” says Chris Wiant, chair of the Water Quality & Health Council. “ When Americans head to the pool this summer, they should make packing a pool test strip as routine as packing towels and sunscreen.”

When testing pool water, the pH should register between 7.2 and 7.8 and the free chlorine level should be between 1.0 and 4.0 parts per million. If readings are outside these ranges, pool staff should be notified immediately. Pool operators should check disinfectant levels and pH at least twice daily.

Swimmers requesting test kits are encouraged to upload readings to the Healthy Pools website, which even offers a smart-phone application so swimmers can upload data poolside.

Just because you practice clean swimming, doesn’t mean others are as considerate.

In a recent survey by the Water Quality & Health Council, nearly one in five adults admitted to urinating in pools and one in three said they don’t shower before swimming.

In addition to using pool test kits, swimmers can use their senses to check for signs of healthy pools. Swimmers should be able to:

See through water to the floor of the pool

Hear pool cleaning equipment

Smell no harsh chemical odor

Feel no sliminess on pool tiles

For more on preventing recreational water illnesses, visit www.cdc.gov/healthywater or www.healthypools.com.

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