As the weather warms up and school comes to an end for the summer, families are preparing to head out on vacation and spend time at the pool. Continuing with our theme for National Safety Month, this week we focus on water park safety and prevention of recreational water illnesses.
While water parks and pools offer children and families an opportunity to be active and have fun, they also carry the risk of recreational water illness (RWI) spread by breathing in mists or aerosols, or swallowing or having contact with contaminated water. Even though chlorine kills most germs that cause RWIs within an hour, some germs can survive for days, even in disinfected water. One way to combat the spread of these germs is by showering prior to getting in the water.
In a 2011 NPCH Report, parents of children 5-12 years old were asked about their perceptions of water park risks and whether they observe basic water park rules about showering. Only 26% of parents said showering is very important before getting in the water. 28% of parents said they believe that preventing infections is the sole responsibility of water park staff. Only 15% of parents thought there was a high risk of children getting sick from water at water parks. In contrast, 33% of parents believed there was a high risk of their children drowning at a water park.
The CDC offers Steps of Healthy Swimming to help combat the spread of RWIs, such as staying out of the water if you have an open wound that is not covered with a waterproof bandage, and showering before getting in the water. For parents with children, make sure you take kids out on bathroom breaks, and check diapers away from the pool in a diaper-changing area.
What do you think?
Are you planning on visiting a water park this summer? Will you enforce the shower-before-pool rule with your children? Share your thoughts in the comments and on Facebook and Twitter @MottNPCH.