During Holiday Swimming, Michigan Residents Encouraged to Practice Healthy and Safe Swimming

Contact: Angela Minicuci (517) 241-2112

For Immediate Release: May 20, 2014

LANSING, Mich. – Every year, thousands of Americans get sick with recreational water illnesses. To protect Michigan residents during the holiday when swimming is common, the week before Memorial Day is recognized as Recreational Water Illness and Injury (RWII) Prevention Week.

Have your eyes ever started to sting and turn red while you were swimming in a pool? Did you think it was because of the chlorine in the water? It’s not actually the chlorine that makes your eyes red, its chemicals, called chloramines, which are formed when human proteins (for example from sweat or urine) combine with pool chlorine. Chloramines not only irritate eyes, they also irritate respiratory functions and can aggravate asthma.

Further, mixing of chlorine with urine not only creates chloramines, it also uses up the chlorine in the pool that is needed to kill germs. We all share the water we swim in. To prevent chloramines from forming and to protect yourself and other swimmers from germs, here are a few simple and effective steps everyone can take each time we swim:

  • Keep the poop and pee out of the wate
    •  Don’t swim when you have diarrhea.
    • Take bathroom breaks every 60 minutes.
    • Take children on bathroom breaks every 60 minutes and check diapers every 30–60 minutes.
    • Change diapers in the bathroom or diaper-changing area and not at the poolside where germs can rinse into the water. 
  • Shower with soap before you start swimming.
    •  Wash your hands after using the toilet, changing diapers, or eating.
    • Quickly rinse off before you get back into the water.
  • Check the chlorine and pH levels before getting into the water.
    • Proper chlorine and pH levels maximize germ-killing power.
    • Most superstores, hardware stores, and pool-supply stores sell pool test strips
  • Don’t swallow swimming pool water.

Lastly, general safety around pools is always important. Keep an eye on children at all times, as kids can drown in seconds and in silence. Don’t use air-filled swimming aids (such as “water wings”) with children in place of life jackets or life preservers. Protect against sunburn by using a sunscreen with at least SPF 15 and both UVA and UVB protection, and be sure to re-apply it after swimming.