Healthy Swimming / Recreational Water

Recreational water illnesses (RWIs) are caused by germs and chemicals found in the water we swim in. RWIs are caused by germs spread by swallowing, breathing in mists or aerosols of, or having contact with contaminated water in swimming pools, hot tubs, water parks, water play areas, interactive fountains, lakes, rivers or oceans. RWIs can include a wide variety of infections, including gastrointestinal, skin, ear, respiratory, eye, neurologic and wound infections.

Steps for healthy swimming and prevention of recreational water illnesses:

      Do not swim when you have diarrhea. Microscopic amounts of infected fecal matter can contaminate an entire pool or hot tub and make others sick if they swallow the water. Do not swim until you have not had diarrhea for two weeks.

      Shower with soap before you start swimming.

     Take bathroom breaks every 60 minutes. 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.

      Wash your hands after using the toilet or changing diapers.

      Do not swallow the water you swim in.

      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.

For additional information on healthy swimming / recreational water:

      Healthy Swimming / Recreational Water (CDC)

      Recreational Water Illnesses (CDC) 

      The Model Aquatic Health Code (CDC)