Healthy and Safe Swimming Communications Toolkit

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Healthy and Safe Swimming Week banner

The information and materials below are meant to help public health professionals promote healthy and safe swimming messages on social media, websites, and other communication channels during Healthy and Safe Swimming Week (HSSW) and throughout the year. These resources are designed to raise awareness about the steps everyone can take to protect themselves and those they care about from injury and illness when swimming.

Outreach Suggestions
All Audiences
Media
Operators of Treated Aquatic Venues (Pools, Hot Tubs, and Water Playgrounds)
Beach Managers and Operators of Untreated Aquatic Venues
  • Tell beach managers where they can find information on if their venue can be open to the public and, if so, how to open it safely.
  • Share guidance on operating public beaches during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Tell beach managers to:
    • Check out EPA’s online technical resourcesexternal icon.
    • Sign up for the BeachNet listserv to communicate and network with other beach managers across the country: https://www.glc.org/email-groupsexternal icon.
    • Establish policies that allow employees to perform alternate duties that do not require entering the water if they have diarrhea or an open cut or wound that cannot be completely covered by a waterproof bandage.
Pool Supply Stores
Healthcare Providers
Community Leaders
  • Create fact sheets for community leaders (such as program administrators, boards of health, and elected officials) detailing specifics about your agency’s HSSW efforts.
Sample Social Media Posts and Graphics

Use these graphics and suggested posts to spread the word about healthy and safe swimming on your social media platforms.

Recreational Water Illness Prevention Posts
  • Follow CDC’s Steps for Healthy Swimming to protect yourself and those you care about from illness at the pool and at the beach this summer. https://go.usa.gov/xQRNZexternal icon
  • Pee in the toilet, not in the pool! When pee and chlorine mix in the pool, there is less chlorine available to kill germs. https://go.usa.gov/xH8Wkexternal icon
  • #DYK that chlorine doesn’t kill germs in pools right away? While it kills most germs in minutes, some germs can live in a properly chlorinated pool for days! Protect yourself. Don’t swallow water you swim or play in. #healthyswimming https://go.usa.gov/xsymtexternal icon
  • Sweat and dirt on your body can use up chlorine needed to kill germs in the pool. Showering before you get in the pool keeps chlorine levels up to keep you and those you care about healthy! #healthyswimming https://go.usa.gov/xQRNZexternal icon
  • Going for a swim with kids? Take a break every hour to use the bathroom or check diapers. Change diapers away from the water to keep germs from getting in. #healthyswimming https://go.usa.gov/xQRNZexternal icon
  • Diarrhea and swimming don’t mix! Follow CDC’s Steps for Healthy Swimming to help protect yourself and those you care about from illness at the pool. #healthyswimming https://go.usa.gov/xQRNZexternal icon
  • Did you know swallowing even a small amount of water contaminated with diarrhea germs can make you sick for up to 3 weeks? Practice healthy swimming by not swallowing the water you swim in! #healthyswimming https://go.usa.gov/xsymtexternal icon
  • Don’t swim or let your kids swim if sick with diarrhea. One person with diarrhea can contaminate the entire pool. Learn more ways to keep you and those you care about healthy. #healthyswimming https://go.usa.gov/xsymtexternal icon
Healthy and Safe Swimming Week Graphics
Drowning Prevention Posts
Pool Chemical Safety Posts
Pool Chemical Safety Graphic
Press Release Template

In preparation for Healthy and Safe Swimming Week, states or local communities can use content from this press release template to develop their own press release highlighting healthy and safe swimming messages. Use any of the data or tips from the chart to create your press release. This content is intended to be customized to best meet each state’s or local community’s priorities and needs.

For Release [date]

Contact: Name, title
Phone/e-mail

Healthy and Safe Swimming Week 2021

<City, State> — The week before Memorial Day (May 24–30) is Healthy and Safe Swimming Week. The goal of this year’s awareness week is to maximize the health benefits of swimming while minimizing the risk of illness and injury. Just 2.5 hours of physical activity every week, including water-based physical activity, can benefit everyone’s health. Each of us plays a role in preventing illnesses and injuries related to the water we swim, play, and relax in, and share—this summer and year-round.

This content is intended to be customized to best meet each state or local community’s priorities and needs.
Why Is This Important? A Few Simple but Effective Prevention Steps We Can All Take

Illnesses caused by the germs in pools and hot tubs

A new CDC report shows that during 2015–2019, >200 outbreaks were linked to pools, hot tubs, and water playgrounds.

Cryptosporidium (or Crypto) can make swimmers sick if they swallow just a mouthful of contaminated water. Although most germs are killed within minutes by chlorine or bromine at the recommended levels, Crypto is a germ that can survive in properly treated water for more than 7 days.

For more info, visit the Healthy Swimming website.

Before getting in:

  • Don’t swim or let others swim if sick with diarrhea.
  • Shower for at least 1 minute before you get into the water to remove dirt or anything else on your body.
    • Chlorine mixed with dirt, sweat, pee, and poop creates chemicals that make swimmers’ eyes red and sting.
    • When chlorine mixes with dirt, sweat, pee, and poop, there is less chlorine available to kill germs.

Once you are in:

  • Don’t swallow the water.
  • Don’t pee or poop in the water.
  • Take kids on frequent bathroom breaks and check diapers every hour.
    • Change diapers away from the water to keep germs from getting in.
  • Dry ears thoroughly with a towel after swimming.

Healthy swimming information

Drowning

Each day, approximately two children less than 15 years old die from drowning. Drowning is the leading cause of injury-related death for children 1–4 years old.

While children are at highest risk, anyone can drown.

For more info, visit the Unintentional Drowning: Get the Facts website.

Stay safe in and around the water

  • Make sure everyone has basic swimming and water safety skills.
  • Use U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets as directed.
  • Designate a responsible adult to closely and constantly supervise swimmers.
  • Know how to recognize and respond to a swimmer in distress and how to perform CPR.

Keep backyard pools safe

  • Prevent access to water when pool is not in use.
  • Install and maintain barriers that fully enclose the pool and separate it from the house, like 4-sided fencing.
  • Use locks/alarms for windows and doors.

Injuries caused by mishandling pool chemicals

Pool chemicals, like chlorine, are needed to protect swimmers’ health. However, mishandling pool chemicals can cause serious injuries. Pool chemical injuries lead to about 4,500 U.S. emergency department visits each year, and over one-third of these preventable injuries are in children or teens.

For more info, visit the Pool Chemical Safety webpage.

Take the following steps to prevent pool chemical injuries:

  • Read and follow all directions on product labels.
  • Wear safety equipment—such as masks, gloves, and goggles—when handling chemicals.
  • Keep chemicals secure and away from children and pets.

Prevent violent, potentially explosive, reactions:

  • NEVER mix different pool chemicals with each other, particularly chlorine products and acid.
  • Pre-dissolve pool chemicals ONLY when directed by product label.
  • Add pool chemical to water, NEVER water to pool chemical.

You can order a FREE laminated poster on using pool chemicals safely on the CDC-INFO On Demand website, and download and print a poster on storing pool chemicals safely on the Healthy Swimming Posters webpage.

Harmful Algae and Cyanobacterial Blooms

Algae and cyanobacteria (sometimes called blue-green algae) can overgrow or bloom in warm, nutrient-rich water. Some of these blooms can harm people, animals, and the environment. These events are referred to as a harmful algal or cyanobacterial blooms (HABs).

If harmful algal or cyanobacterial blooms produce toxins, they can cause a variety of symptoms, including skin irritation, coughing, sneezing, diarrhea, stomach pain, numbness, and dizziness. Symptoms vary depending on the type of toxin and the type of exposure, such as skin contact, eating contaminated food, swallowing contaminated water, or breathing in tiny contaminated droplets or mist.

For more info, visit the Harmful Algal Blooms website.

Avoid water that contains harmful algal or cyanobacterial blooms—when in doubt, stay out!

  • Look for posted signs or other advisories from local public health authorities or beach managers. If the beach is closed or if there is guidance to avoid the water, stay out and keep your pets out!
  • Do not go into or play in water that:
    • Smells bad
    • Looks discolored
    • Has foam, scum, algal mats, or paint-like streaks on the surface
    • Has dead fish or other animals washed up on its shore or beach
  • Keep children and pets from playing in or drinking scummy water.
  • If you or your pets go in water that may have a bloom, rinse yourself and your pets immediately afterward with tap water. Do not let pets lick their fur until they have been rinsed. Pets may have harmful algae, cyanobacteria, or related toxins on their fur if they swim or play in water with a bloom.

Naegleria fowleri “The Brain-eating Ameba”

Naegleria fowleri is a microscopic ameba (a single-celled living organism) that is commonly found in warm freshwater such as in lakes, rivers, and hot springs. If water containing the ameba goes up the nose, the ameba can invade and cause a rare and devastating infection of the brain called primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM).

For more info, visit the Naegleria fowleri website.

Everyone:

Naegleria fowleri infections are rare. The only certain way to prevent an infection due to swimming is to stay out of freshwater. However, you can reduce your chance of getting an infection by limiting the amount of freshwater going up your nose.

To limit the amount of freshwater going up your nose:

  • Hold your nose or use nose clips when taking part in freshwater-related activities.
  • Avoid putting your head underwater in hot springs and other bodies of warm freshwater.
Communications Toolkits From Previous Years
Page last reviewed: July 12, 2021