Two Rivers: Recreational water safety

Kearney Pool

As Memorial Day, the traditional start to summer, approaches, it is important to be aware of recreational water safety and the impact it can have on your health

May 21-27, 2018, is the 14th annual Healthy and Safe Swimming Week, focusing on prevention of recreational water illness.

“Diarrhea and Swimming Don’t Mix.”

What are Recreational Water Illnesses?

  • These are illnesses that affect the skin, respiratory system, gastrointestinal system, eyes, wounds and ears.
  • Diarrhea is the most common recreational water illness
  • 1 in 5 adults do not know that swimming while ill with diarrhea can potentially make others sick

What causes Recreational Water Illnesses?

  • Recreational water illnesses are caused by swallowing, breathing in mists & having contact with contaminated water
  • Swimmers, especially those who have been ill, might introduce poop into the water if they don’t shower before entering the pool or may have a diarrheal incident while in the water

What are the most common causes of diarrheal illness?

  • Cryptosporidium, E. Coli & Giardia are most common pathogens

What can people do to protect themselves and reduce the spread of illness?

  • Shower before entering the pool
  • Don’t pee or poop in the pool
  • Stay out of the water if you have diarrhea – avoid it for up to 2 weeks after symptoms stop
  • Change swim diapers at least every hour (its best if you can check every 30 minutes)
  • Take kids to the bathroom every 60 minutes
  • Don’t swallow water

What about the chlorine?

  • Cryptosporidium can survive in chlorinated water for up to 10 days
  • Chlorine’s effectiveness as a disinfectant is decreased by sweat, pee, poop, and other chemicals that may be found in sunscreen

The Health Department encourages a holistic program of work to promote health and wellness. Recreational water activities are a great way to enjoy time outdoors. Remember to avoid the water if you have diarrhea or are ill and always take a shower before entering a pool to protect you and your family. For more information visit or visit our Facebook page Two Rivers Public Health Department. Additional information can be found at

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