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Swimming offers many health benefits, but it is also associated with health risks including diarrhea, drowning and sunburn. Swimmers and hot tub users should learn how to protect themselves and others from potential health problems. You can choose to swim healthy by educating yourself and sharing this information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Before you get in…

Check the pool! Well maintained pools are less likely to spread germs. Injuries and drownings are less likely in pools that have trained staff and adequate safety equipment.

Check the pool’s latest inspection results. Make sure the drain at the bottom of the deep end is visible. Check that the drain covers at the bottom appear to be secured and in good repair. Use pool test strips to make sure the water’s pH and free chlorine or bromine concentration are correct.

  • pH 7.2–7.8

  • free chlorine concentration of at least 3 ppm in hot tubs/spas and at least 1 ppm in other places with treated water

  • free bromine concentration of at least 4 ppm in hot tubs/spas and at least 3 ppm in other places with treated water.

Check for a lifeguard. If on duty, a lifeguard should be focused on the swimmers and not distracted. If no lifeguard is on duty, a “No Lifeguard on Duty” sign should be posted. If no lifeguard on duty, check to see where safety equipment, such as a rescue ring or pole, is available.

Make sure no chemicals are out in the open.

Check yourself! Keep the pee, poop, sweat, blood, and dirt out of the water. Stay out of the water if you have diarrhea or an open wound (for example, from surgery or a piercing) that is not covered with a waterproof bandage. Shower before you get in the water. Rinsing off in the shower for just one minute removes most of the dirt or anything else on your body.

Protect yourself and others! Protect against sunburn by using a sunscreen with at least SPF 15 that blocks both UVA and UVB rays.

Use well-fitting Coast Guard approved life jackets for flotation assistance rather than foam or air-filled toys.

Once you’re in…

Don’t pee or poop in the water.
Don’t swallow the water.
Keep an eye on children at all times. Kids can drown in seconds and in silence.

Every hour—everyone out! Take kids on bathroom breaks. Check diapers and change them in a bathroom or diaper-changing area, not poolside, to keep germs away from the pool. Reapply sunscreen, drink plenty of fluids and dry ears thoroughly with a towel after swimming.

Residential Pool or Hot Tub Owners
Owning an at-home pool or hot tub can be fun for the whole family, but it’s important to know how to take care of them and keep everyone healthy and safe. CDC provides information on cleaning, disinfecting, testing and more here: https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/swimming/residential/index.html

Aquatics Professionals
From facility designers to lifeguards, aquatic professionals are the first line of defense against illness and injury at public aquatic venues. CDC provides information about the design, construction, operation, maintenance and management of public aquatic venues to keep swimmers of all ages and skill levels safe. You can learn more here: https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/swimming/aquatics-professionals/index.html