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Color Their World - Safe! Articles on child health and safety, from Nanny's Place

Tips for Keeping Healthy in Public Water Areas

Public swimming pools and other public water areas where people play are potential sources of waterborn disease. Waterparks, pools, hot tubs, spas, public ornamental or recreational fountains, lakes, rivers and oceans can all contain germs that can make you or your child sick.

A number of diseases can be contracted by playing or swimming in contaminated water, including skin and respiratory infections. However, one of the most common diseases is diarrhea, which is spread when germs from human or animal feces get into the water. Swallowing even small amounts of water with these germs can make you sick.

While chlorine does kill most germs, it doesn't kill them all. To be most effective, chlorine must be maintained at proper levels. Hot tubs and spas have high temperatures that may cause the chlorine to evaporate faster than normal; therefore, chlorine levels in these areas need to be checked more often than in cooler water.

Here are some of the things you can do to reduce the danger of waterborn disease. These tips apply to ALL kinds of public water areas, including public fountains where children play.

* Anyone with diarrhea should NOT go into the water. Minute amounts of fecal matter can be rinsed from a person's bottom as he moves through the water, contaminating it.

* Wash your child thoroughly, especially his bottom, before allowing him in the water.

* Swim diapers or swim pants are not leakproof-- don't rely on them.

* Change your child's diapers often. If you have an older child, make sure she takes frequent bathroom breaks.

* Change diapers in a bathroom and be sure to wash your child's bottom and your hands thoroughly with soap and water. Also wash thoroughly after going to the toilet yourself.

* Do not swallow the water.

* Don't let pool or fountain water splash or spray onto food or beverages.

* Don't sit on or over fountain jets. This can increase the risk of water contamination.

* Notify the pool attendant or lifeguard immediately if you see fecal matter in the pool. Also notify them if you see people changing diapers on tables or chairs, or in other areas where the water or eating areas could become contaminated.

* The safest pool is a well-managed pool, one that maintains proper chlorine levels at all times and that promotes healthy swimming tips to prevent contamination.

This information is compiled from
1. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Recreational Waterborne Disease
2. Invisible pool guests can cause kids to get sick
3. Outbreak of Gastroenteritis Associated With an Interactive Water Fountain at a Beachside Park --- Florida, 1999

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Last updated Sun, Jun 4, 2006

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