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From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Triple A's of Healthy Swimming: Awareness, Action, Advocacy

To help swimmers, their families, and others from contracting recreational water illnesses (RWIs) coming into contact with contaminated water in swimming pools, hot tubs, water parks, water play areas, interactive fountains, lakes, rivers, or oceans, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has developed the Triple A's of healthy swimming: Awareness, Action and Advocacy:

1. Awareness

Visit CDC's Healthy Swimming website at www.cdc.gov/healthywater/swimmingThree kids in a pool

Learn how to protect yourself and others from RWIs and follow the Six Steps for Healthy Swimming:

Three Steps for All Swimmers

Keep germs from causing recreational water illnesses (RWIs):

  • Don't swim when you have diarrhea. You can spread germs in the water and make other people sick.
  • Don't swallow the pool water. Avoid getting water in your mouth.
  • Practice good hygiene. Shower with soap before swimming and wash your hands after using the toilet or changing diapers. Germs on your body end up in the water.

Three Steps for Parents of Young Kids

Keep germs out of the pool:

  • Take your kids on bathroom breaks or check diapers often. Waiting to hear "I have to go" may mean that it's too late.
  • Change diapers in a bathroom or a diaper-changing area and not at poolside. Germs can spread in and around the pool.
  • Wash your child thoroughly (especially the rear end) with soap and water before swimming. Invisible amounts of fecal matter can end up in the pool.

2. Action

Check pool water yourself using test strips purchased at your local hardware or pool supply store. CDC recommends the following water quality ranges:
  • Free chlorine level 1-3 parts per million (ppm)
  • pH 7.2-7.8

Ask the pool operator the following questions:

  • Are the free chlorine and pH levels checked at least 2 times per day and more often when the pool is heavily used?
  • What is the latest pool inspection score?
  • Has he/she completed specialized training in pool operation?

3. Advocacy

Encourage pool operators to take steps known to kill germs.

Add ultraviolet or ozone technology to pool water treatment.

Hyperchlorinate regularly; not even the toughest germs (like Crypto) can tolerate free chlorine levels at 20 ppm for 12.75 hours.
Educate other swimmers about RWIs to promote healthy swimming.

To learn more about the importance of following the Triple A's of Healthy Swimming, read the CDC report on common pool inspection violations.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Posted May 21, 2011