As Hoosiers begin spending time in swimming pools, lakes and rivers this summer, state health officials are issuing a reminder to keep safety in mind.
Every year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that thousands of Americans have gotten sick from germs in waterways or were injured while they swam.
“Not a single person in Indiana should die from drowning,” State Health Commissioner William VanNess, M.D., said. “It’s a preventable tragedy. This summer, let’s look out for one another while enjoying the water. Let’s keep a close eye on the kids and make sure that pools are enclosed when possible and kids know not to get in the water unless an adult is present.”
In the latest state mortality report (2011), there were 81 deaths in Indiana due to accidental drowning or submersion.
Health officials recommend that when swimming:
• Be sure to have a flotation safety device, like a life preserver or a vest, nearby;
• Always obey swimming rules at the pool, lake or other body of water; and
• Don’t swim where prohibited and never swim alone.
Recreational water illnesses are spread by ingesting, inhaling or having skin contact with contaminated water. Though contaminated water can cause serious problems such as skin, ear, respiratory, eye, neurologic and wound infections, the most commonly reported illness is diarrhea.
Help prevent the spread of water illnesses by not swallowing pool water, practicing good hygiene, taking children on regular bathroom breaks, and changing diapers away from poolside.
Also, injuries from pool chemicals led to nearly 5,000 emergency room visits in 2012, according to a study released by the CDC.
Nearly half of these preventable injuries were in children and teenagers and more than a third occurred at a home. Pool chemical injuries were most common during the summer swim season, from Memorial Day to Labor Day, and almost half occurred on weekends.