Entries in Pools (4)


Protecting Yourself from Community Pool Health Hazards

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- When you dive into the cool, crisp water at your local pool on a hot summer day, concern over microbes may not be the first thing that goes through your mind.  But that chlorinated water may not be as clean as you would think.

In 2009, a survey by a group known as the Water Quality and Health Council found that one in five people urinate in the pool -- a problem that may have more implications for your health than the simple "ick factor."

The Water Quality and Health Council is sponsored by Chlorine Chemistry Division of the American Chemistry Council, an industry trade association.  It's a group that would arguably want people to have the cleanliness of their pools in mind.

Still, simple chemistry supports the notion that urine can actually deplete the chlorine levels in pools.  At the root of the problem is the interaction between the ammonia in urine and the chlorine in a pool, which forms a chemical called chloramine.

Aside from potentially giving off noxious fumes, chloramine, it turns out, is actually less effective at killing bacteria than chlorine, possibly leading to an increased risk of water-borne infections.

This might not be such a problem if people heeded the imperative commonly posted on signs at public pools that advises them to shower before they get into the water -- a step the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls "the first defense against germs that can make swimmers sick."  But the Water Quality and Health study revealed that nearly 70 percent of people taking a dip in the pool do not shower beforehand.

The CDC reports that in 2008, poor water quality led to one out of every eight public pool closings.  Those pool closings are for a good reason; past reports suggest many have fallen victim to infections from the pool.

One such victim is Brody Weiss, son of ex-Atlanta Braves Shortstop Walt Weiss.  Brody contracted E. coli from a recreation park wading pool in 1998 when he was 3-years-old.  After Brody became ill, tests at the park revealed chlorine levels below the level needed to kill E. coli.

And it's not just E. coli.  Health experts say that chloramine can also lead to wide varieties of bacterial infections including shigella, campylobacter, salmonella, hepatitis A and other forms of parasitic infections. In addition, chloramines -- not chlorine itself -- are often responsible for those stinging red eyes that we normally associate with a day at the pool.

The good news is that the CDC offers tips that you can follow to safeguard yourself and everyone around you when it comes to pool etiquette:

-- Don't swim when you have diarrhea.
-- Don't swallow pool water.
-- Practice good hygiene.  Shower with soap before swimming and after swimming.  Wash your hands after using the toilet or changing diapers.
-- If you are taking your kids to the pool, be sure to give them frequent bathroom breaks or check their diapers often.
-- Change diapers in a bathroom or a diaper-changing area, not at poolside.
-- Wash your children thoroughly (especially the rear end) with soap and water before they go swimming.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Infants Learn to Avoid Drowning in Aggressive Program

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- For nearly 50 years, behavioral scientist Harvey Barnett has pushed infants into swimming pools with the hopes that they'd rescue themselves.  The program, never fully embraced by pediatricians, aggressively teaches infants as young as six months survival swimming techniques.

Barnett founded Infant Swimming Resource in 1966 after his neighbor's 9-month-old son drowned.  To date, the program has nearly 1,000 documented cases of children using survival swimming techniques to save themselves from drowning.

YouTube has shown numerous cases of babies intentionally falling into pools, only to tactically kick their head above water, roll on their backs, and float up to safety. In some videos, parents purposely push their child in the water and watch them rescue themselves.

Drownings are the leading cause of injury death for young children ages 1 to 4, and three children die every day as a result of drowning, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  An estimated 19 percent of drowning deaths involving children occur in public pools where lifeguards are present.

To be eligible for the class, infants must be able to sit up and roll over, since those are two techniques used, said Kim Moore, a certified Infant Swim Self Rescue instructor for nearly a decade. The children are taught to kick their head above water and roll on their backs to stay afloat, she said.

But the program, which has grown in popularity nationwide, has been slow to be accepted by major pediatrician organizations.

Before 2010, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommended against swimming lessons for children under age 4.

While the Academy has found some benefit to swimming lessons between ages 1 to 4 to prevent drowning, it has loosened but not eliminated its recommendation against infant and toddler swimming lessons.

"It must be stressed that even advanced swimming skills will not always prevent drowning and that swimming lessons must be considered only within the context of multilayered protection with effective pool barriers and constant, capable supervision," according to the 2010 AAP policy statement.

Evidence suggests that children ages 1 to 4 are less likely to drown if they have had formal swimming lessons, but the evidence has come from small studies and it's not clear exactly what type of techniques have been beneficial, said Dr. Mary Rvelyn O'Neil, a pediatrician at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in North Carolina.

O'Neil said she warns parents against intense survival-like swimming lessons before age one.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Pools, Playgrounds Distribute Diarrhea, Disease

Hemera/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Kids love wading pools and playgrounds with sprinklers, but so do parasites.

A new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)  links recreational water parks to a record 134 outbreaks of cryptosporidiosis in two years. That’s 13,966 cases of watery diarrhea.

Cryptosporidiosis, or crypto for short, is caused by cryptosporidium -- a microscopic parasite spread through feces. Pool and fountain water gets contaminated "when a person has a fecal incident in the water or fecal material washes off of a swimmer’s body,” the CDC report explains.

The parasite can cause diarrhea, stomach cramps, dehydration and even nausea.

The outbreaks reported by the CDC occurred in 2007 and 2008 -- the most recent years for which statistics are available. The report reveals a 72 percent hike in crypto cases compared to the previous two-year period.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Experts Urge Parents to Monitor Pool Safety with Children

David de Lossy/Photodisc(MONTREAL) -- Experts are urging parents to monitor young children swimming in backyard pools, since drownings can occur in as little as two inches of water, according to a report from HealthDay.

Infants, particularly toddlers and pre-schools, are unable to judge the dangers of water, and are sometimes led to pools out of curiosity.

Pool fences are an appropriate safety measure, according to the report.

Parents might also consider lifesaving courses, just as young children should take swimming lessons.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio