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Div. of Media Relations
1600 Clifton Road
MS D-14
Atlanta, GA 30333
(404) 639-3286
Fax (404) 639-7394


May 25, 2001
Contact: CDC, Division of Media Relations
(404) 639-3286


CDC releases strategies to help ensure a safe and healthy Memorial Day

Millions of Americans will be heading to pools, lakes, the ocean and elsewhere to enjoy outdoor activities this Memorial Day weekend. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) would like to remind people to learn about strategies to help protect themselves from injury and illness during outdoor recreational activities.

Many Americans die each year from drowning, suffer from infectious diseases or suffer health consequences from over exposure to the sun during outdoor recreational activities. CDC has developed many strategies that can go a long way to help ensure people stay safe and healthy when they enjoy the outdoors. Some of those strategies listed below include:

Strategies to reduce drownings associated with recreational water use include:

  • Whenever young children are swimming, playing, or bathing in water, make sure an adult is constantly watching them. By definition this means that the supervising adult should not read, play cards, talk on the phone, mow the lawn, or do any other distracting activity while watching children.
  • Never swim alone or in unsupervised places. Teach children to always swim with a buddy.
  • Never drink alcohol during or just before swimming, boating, or water skiing. Never drink alcohol while supervising children. Teach teenagers about the danger of drinking alcohol and swimming, boating, or water skiing.
  • Learn to swim. Enroll yourself and/or your children aged 4 and older in swimming classes. Swimming classes are not recommended for children under age 4.
  • Learn CPR (cardio-pulmonary resuscitation). This is particularly important for pool owners and individuals who regularly participate in water recreation. Do NOT use air-filled swimming aids (such as "water wings") in place of life jackets or life preservers with children. These can give parents and children a false sense of security and increase the risk of drowning.
  • Check the water depth before entering. The American Red Cross recommends 9 feet as a minimum depth for diving or jumping.

If you have a swimming pool at home be sure to:

  • Install a four-sided, isolation pool-fence with self-closing and self-latching gates around the pool. The fence should be at least 4 feet tall and completely separate the pool from the house and play area of the yard.
  • Prevent children from having direct access to a swimming pool.
  • Install a telephone near the pool. Know how to contact local emergency medical services. Post the emergency number, 911, in an easy-to-see place. Learn CPR.

Strategies to help prevent infectious diseases due to fecal accidents in swimming pools include:

  • Don’t swim when you have diarrhea...this is especially important for kids in diapers. You can spread germs into the water and make other people sick.
  • Don’t swallow the pool water. In fact, try your best to avoid even having water get in your mouth.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water after using the toilet or after changing diapers. You can protect others by being aware that germs on your body end up in the water.
  • Take your kids on bathroom breaks often. Waiting to hear "I have to go" may mean that it’s too late.
  • Change diapers in a bathroom and not at poolside. Germs can spread to surfaces and objects in and around the pool and spread illness.

Strategies to help avoid overexposure to the sun include:

  • Wear sunscreen with an SPF factor of 15 or higher (both UVA and UVB protection), whenever you’re outdoors during the day. Remember to reapply it often.
  • Wear long sleeves and pants when you are not in the water to help protect skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays.
  • Wear a hat to help shield your skin from the sun's harmful UV rays.
  • Wear sunglasses to help protect your eyes from UV rays and reduce the risk of cataracts.

More detailed information can be found at:

CDC protects people's health and safety by preventing and controlling diseases and injuries; enhances health decisions by providing credible information on critical health issues; and promotes healthy living through strong partnerships with local, national and international organizations.

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This page last reviewed May 29, 2001

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