Recreational Water Illness and Injury Prevention Week 2013

 Baltimore, MD (May 21, 2013) — The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene reminds all Marylanders that the week before Memorial Day is Recreational Water Illness and Injury Prevention Week. Thousands of residents will head to the beach or to pools this weekend. Staying safe at the water means using common sense to prevent both injuries and illnesses.
  • Watch children in the water, and never leave them unattended.
  • Make sure your pool is fenced.
  • Always have a cell phone handy for emergency calls.
  • Keep germs out of the water by washing with soap before entering or re-entering the water, washing your hands after using the bathroom, or changing a baby’s diapers.
  • Keep adequate chlorine and pH levels in the water.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, drowning is the leading cause of injury death among children aged one to four years. On average, 10 persons die from drowning each day, including two aged less than 15 years. Drowning is the sixth leading cause of unintentional injury death for people of all ages, and the second leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 14 years.

In addition, every year, thousands of Marylanders get sick with recreational water illnesses (RWIs), which are caused by germs found in places where we swim. Often, people assume that chlorine in the water causes their eyes to sting and turn red after swimming in a pool. However, the redness is usually caused by chloramines (a combination of chlorine and other chemicals, typically ammonia), produced when someone urinates, or when sweat and personal care products wash off of a swimmer’s body.

Even when pools are properly maintained, chlorine and other pool water treatments don’t kill germs instantly. A single diarrheal incident can release enough germs into the water that swallowing a mouthful of contaminated pool water can cause diarrhea lasting up to 2 to3 weeks.

Remember…Think Healthy. Swim Healthy. Be Healthy!
For more information about healthy swimming, visit

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