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DHMH Press Releases : Healthy and Safe Swimming: We’re in it together

Healthy and Safe Swimming: We’re in it together

Baltimore, MD (May 19, 2014) – Recreational Water Illness and Injury Prevention Week begins now, May 19-25, 2014.  The Departments of Health and Mental Hygiene, the Environment, and Natural Resources remind Marylanders of safe and healthy swimming practices, including ways to prevent illness and injury, whether in the Bay, on the shore, or swimming in a pond or a pool.


Every day, two children under the age of 14 die from drowning, and drowning is the leading cause of injury death for children aged 1-4 years. Additionally, exposure to bacteria and chemicals in pools can cause harm or illness; however, both of these can be prevented through a few simple precautions.

Staying safe and healthy while enjoying the water is easy. Preventing recreational water illness and injury is a matter of common sense. Marylanders can prevent injury and death due to drowning, many waterborne infections and outbreaks and enjoy all that the water offers, by following these basic rules:

Prevent Illness

  • Don’t swim with an open sore or wound.

  • Don’t swim if you have diarrhea. You can spread germs in the water and make others sick.

  • Don’t swallow pool or beach water. Avoid getting water in your mouth.

  • Wash hands after changing diapers, using the restroom, and before eating or handling food.

  • Shower with soap before and after swimming in a pool.

  • Change diapers in a bathroom or a diaper-changing area and not poolside.

  • At the beach, take diapers to trash cans or store in a secure bag to be thrown out at home.

  • Take your children to the bathroom every 30-60 minutes. Waiting to hear "I have to go" may mean that it’s too late.

  • Stay out of the water if it has a strange color.

  • Avoid swimming in natural waters within 48 hours of a heavy rain event.

  • Know before you go ─ check the Maryland Healthy Beaches website for the advisory status of swimming beaches.

  • ​Use sunscreen frequently throughout the day- every day - to avoid skin cancer and burns.

  • Stay hydrated and in the shade to help avoid illness such as sunstroke.​

Prevent Injury

  • Pay special attention to small children and always use safety devices on children.

  • Swim only where there is trained lifeguard on duty.

  • Always wear a lifejacket and have a flotation rescue device handy when out on the water.

  • Never swim alone or while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

  • Check weather and tides before heading out.

  • Carry a cellphone or have other ways of contacting emergency personnel if a situation arises.

For more information, call 1-866-703-3266 or e-mail dhmh.envhealth@maryland.gov.

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