Sunblock, shades, and showers? Preventing illness from water parks

With Memorial Day quickly approaching and the school year winding down, many children and families will soon be making their way to water parks and public pools to get exercise and soak up some sun. Although swimming can be a great recreational activity, having fun at a public pool or water park can also make you sick with a recreational water illness (RWI) – causing vomiting, diarrhea, cramps, and fever.

Water parks and pools take precautions to prevent RWIs by treating the water with chlorine to kill most germs that cause illnesses. But some germs can survive for days even in properly disinfected water. To prevent these germs from contaminating the pool, patrons are asked to shower before getting in the water, so they don’t bring the germs into the water with them.

But in a 2011 NPCH Report, only 26% of parents said they think it’s very important to shower before getting into the water. If parents don’t take this important rule seriously, it’s likely that germs will be introduced into the pool. Read the full report: Few parents enforce shower-before-pool rules that prevent illness from water parks.

To prevent recreational water illnesses (RWIs):

  • Help children wash thoroughly with soap and water before swimming (especially for young children in the diaper region).
  • Take children on bathroom breaks or check diapers often.
  • Remind children to not to swallow water and avoid getting water in the mouth.
  • Do not allow children to swim when they are ill with diarrhea.

For more information about recreational water illnesses, read this information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Are you planning to visit a local water park this summer? What steps will you take to prevent illness?