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State Health Officials Offer Tips To Prevent Recreational Water Illnesses & Injuries
Updated May 24, 2016 6:14 AM | Filed under: Health
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(INDIANAPOLIS) - The arrival of Memorial Day weekend heralds the opening of many pools and beaches, and state health officials are urging Hoosiers to keep safety in mind while enjoying the water this year.

National Healthy and Safe Swimming Week is May 23 to 29 and reminds people that they can take steps to prevent illness and injury from places they swim.

"The summer months are a great time to enjoy the water, and we want to Hoosiers to know how to stay safe so that no swimming outing leads to illness or tragedy," said State Health Commissioner Jerome Adams, M.D., M.P.H. "Practicing safe habits and using good personal hygiene can ensure that swimming remains a safe and healthy activity for people of all ages."

A total of 76 people in Indiana died of accidental drowning or submersion in 2014, the latest year for which data are available. To prevent deaths and serious injury, health officials urge Hoosiers to wear a flotation safety device, like a life preserver or a vest, obey swimming rules at the pool, lake or other body of water and avoid swimming alone or where prohibited.

The best way to prevent illnesses from pools is to keep germs out. That can be accomplished by following these six healthy swimming steps:

  • Don't swim when you have diarrhea.
  • Don't swallow pool water.
  • Practice good hygiene--shower with soap before swimming and wash your hands after using the toilet or changing diapers.
  • Take children on bathroom breaks or check diapers often.
  • Change diapers in a bathroom or a diaper-changing area and not at poolside.
Natural bodies of water are popular swimming spots in Indiana. Warm water enriched with nutrients such as phosphorus or nitrogen from fertilizers can develop blue-green algae, also known as Cyanobacteria, that can lead to illness. Take these precautions when swimming in Indiana waters:
  • Avoid water-related activities when temperatures are high and water levels are low.
  • Avoid coming in contact with visible algae while swimming, jet skiing or tubing.
  • Avoid swallowing or breathing in any water while swimming.
  • Hold your nose shut, use nose clips or keep your head above water.
  • Avoid digging in, or stirring up the sediment in shallow areas.
  • Always supervise children playing in or around water.

Anyone experiencing symptoms related to exposure to recreational waters, including stomach cramps, diarrhea, vomiting, headache, fever, muscle weakness or difficulty breathing, should contact their health care provider.
For more information on recreational water illnesses, visit the Indiana State Department of Health's Healthy Swimming website at Information on public swimming pools and spas may be found at For more information on blue-green algae, visit Indiana's Blue-Green Algae website at

Visit the Indiana State Department of Health at for important health and safety information, or follow us on Twitter at @StateHealthIN and on Facebook at

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