It's that time of year again when temperatures are rising, kids are being let out of school for the summer and as busy parents, we're scrambling to find somewhere to keep them cool and occupied. Many of us turn towards community pools because it's the easiest option and it's often where all of their friends are hanging out. But, before making a beeline for your community pool this year, here are some extremely important safety tips to consider that you might have easily overlooked.
First and foremost, make sure that there is always, always a lifeguard on duty. As parents, we often have multiple children to watch and glancing away for just a second and taking our eyes off one child can be too long. It's best to make sure that extra eyes are always on the pool at all times. After all, the CDC reported that in America, an average of 3,536 fatal unintentional drownings happen every single year. Furthermore, an average of one in five people who die from these drowning instances are children 14 and younger. And for every child who dies from drowning, another five receive emergency department care for nonfatal water injuries.
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But before even entering the pool, it's crucial to keep your body and everyone else's healthy. Even with lots of chlorine being used in these community pools, there are still incredible amounts of harmful bacteria that can slip through. The Dayton Daily News says that "while most public pools are chlorinated or filtered, safety officials still recommend you take a shower before you enter the pool to keep bacteria out. They also stress following general cleanliness best practices and not throwing trash in the area around the pool."
Keeping health issues in the forefront of these water safety tips, it's important to learn a much overlooked term: RWI. This stands for recreational water illness. This is something that has become so common, that a name did indeed need to be developed for it. This term applies to the exposure of the many types of bacteria that are found in community pools. The most common bacteria to watch out for is Cryptosporidium, Giardia, and E. coli, which are spread through feces contamination in these pools. Hence why the showering off of our bodies before we enter pools is so important.
Speaking of chlorine, even though this chemical is crucial for killing those harmful bacteria, it's also important to make sure that you keep an eye on how frequently you're swimming in pools which such high chlorine use. PBS reported that "when chlorine comes into contact with human bodily fluids, including urea, the chemical reactions that follow result in dozens, if not hundreds of byproducts. Some of these byproducts — like cyanogen chloride — are highly volatile and toxic, yet there is very little pool-based data, research and understanding of how these chemicals impact our world and well-being."
And lastly, avoid overheating when spending time out in the sun at these community pools by making sure that ever 45 minutes or so your children take a break from the swimming and relax in a shady spot to hydrate. It's easy to think that since they're playing in a cool pool that overheating can't happen - but it can occur quicker than you think.
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