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How Can We Prevent Recreational Water Illnesses (RWIs)?

Steps for Healthy Swimming


Here are a few easy and effective healthy swimming steps all swimmers can take each time we swim to help protect ourselves, our families, and our friends from recreational water illnesses (RWIs):

  • 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.

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