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Steps of Healthy Swimming: Protection Against Recreational Water Illnesses (RWIs)

A father helping his daughter learn to swim in the pool.

You can choose to swim healthy! You have the power to help keep germs out the water in places we swim in the first place. Remember, chlorine and other disinfectants don’t kill germs instantly. Additionally, the mixing of chlorine with pee and sweat uses up the chlorine in the pool, which would otherwise kill germs.

We all share the water we swim in, and each of us needs to do our part to help keep ourselves, our families, and our friends healthy. To help protect yourself and other swimmers from germs, here are a few easy and effective steps all swimmers can take each time we swim:

  • Keep the poop, germs, and pee out of the water.
    • Don't swim when you have diarrhea.
    • Shower with soap before you start swimming.
      • Take a rinse shower before you get back into the water.
    • Take bathroom breaks every 60 minutes.
    • Wash your hands after using the toilet or changing diapers.
  • Check the free chlorine level and pH before getting into the water.
    • Pools: Proper free chlorine level (1–3 mg/L or parts per million [ppm]) and pH (7.2–7.8) maximize germ-killing power.
    • Hot tubs/spas: Proper disinfectant level (chlorine [2–4 parts per million or ppm] or bromine [4–6 ppm] and pH [7.2–7.8]) maximize germ-killing power.
    • Most superstores, hardware stores, and pool-supply stores sell pool test strips.
  • Don't swallow the water you swim in.

Parents of young children should take a few extra steps:

  • Take children on bathroom breaks every 60 minutes or check diapers every 30–60 minutes.
    • Change diapers in the bathroom or diaper-changing area and not at poolside where germs can rinse into the water.

Think Healthy. Swim Healthy. Be Healthy!

 
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