Maine CDC Press Release

June 18, 2013

Take Appropriate Precautions When Visiting Beaches, Lakes and Pools This Summer

AUGUSTA – Summer is just around the corner and Maine’s lakes, rivers, beaches, and pools will soon be in full use. This is a perfect time of year to remind residents and visitors about healthy and safe swimming practices.

“Maine’s beaches, lakes and rivers will be full of swimmers, boaters, fisherman and adventure-seekers this summer,’’ said Governor Paul R. LePage. “I urge people to take the necessary steps to assure they are safe while enjoying some of Maine’s best natural resources. Swimmers, boaters and pool owners must do all they can to reduce the risk of accidents that may have tragic consequences.”

Recreational water illnesses (RWIs), drowning and sunburn are leading public health areas of concern during the summer months. Contamination of recreational water due to poor swimmer hygiene threatens health. Even when the levels of chlorine and other pool water treatments are well maintained, they don’t kill all germs instantly and some can linger in the water for up to 10 days.

In addition to illness, safety is a key concern. Every day, about 10 people die in the United States from unintentional drowning and of those, two are age 14 or younger. Nationally, 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.

“We all share the water we swim in and we each need to do our part to keep ourselves, our families, and our friends healthy and safe,” said Dr. Sheila Pinette, Director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, which recommends the following preventative measures:

Don’t let the water get contaminated
- Don’t swim when you have diarrhea
- Shower with soap before you start swimming

Take a rinse shower before you get back into the water
- Take children on bathroom breaks every 60 minutes or check diapers every 30–60 minutes
- Change diapers in the bathroom or diaper-changing area
- Wash your hands after using the toilet or changing diapers

Don’t swallow the water you swim in

Check chlorine and pH levels before getting into pools
- Proper chlorine levels maximize germ-killing power
- Free pool test strips are available through the Maine CDC website at http://www.maine.gov/dhhs/mecdc/infectious-disease/epi/order-form-wn.shtml or http://www.healthypools.org/freeteststrips/

Reduce the risks of drowning
- Learn to swim and closely watch swimmers in or around water
- Look for lifeguards and heed warning flags
- Know the terrain; Avoid rip currents
- Use U.S. Coast Guard approved life jackets
- Avoid alcohol when swimming or on the water.
- Make sure that proper fencing is around all pools and that locks are placed at entry points.

Protect yourself from UV Radiation
- Use sunscreen with sun protective factor (SPF) 15 or higher, and both UVA and UVB protection
- Seek shade, especially during midday hours
- Wear clothing, hats, and sunglasses

Additional educational materials about healthy and safe swimming can be found at: http://www.maine.gov/dhhs/mecdc/infectious-disease/epi/healthyswimming/index.shtml or http://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/swimming/.