SRHD Encourages Community to Pool Safely

SRHD Encourages Community to Pool Safely

Jun 17, 2015

Pool Safe campaign offers illustrations, tips for preventing both drowning and recreational water illnesses caused by germs in pools


For more information, contact Kim Papich, SRHD Public Information Officer (509) 324-1539 or

SPOKANE, Wash. – June 17, 2015 – Swimming is meant to be fun and healthy and to ensure it is for all adults and children here, Spokane Regional Health District (SRHD) is launching its Pool Safe campaign. Aimed at reducing drowning and illness risks associated with having fun in pools, the campaign is the perfect complement to warm weather in the Inland Northwest. The campaign’s variety of colorful illustrations show simple measures people can take at both public and private pools to waterproof themselves and loved ones from drowning and illness risks.
Drowning is a leading cause of injury death for children ages 1 to 4 (toddlers) nationally. For people of all ages, drowning is the fifth leading cause of unintentional injury death. And for every child who dies from drowning, another five receive emergency department care for near drownings that can cause brain damage and result in long-term disabilities. The good news is that drowning can be prevented and Pool Safe makes prevention easy.
When it comes to pool contamination and illness, swimmers are the main culprits for dirtying a pool. Swallowing water that is contaminated with germ-containing poop can cause diarrhea—this is one type of recreational water illness (RWI). On average, kids have about 10 grams of poop on their bottoms (the weight of about four pennies), which gets rinsed off in the pool. When someone is ill with diarrhea, their poop can contain millions of germs.
“When you go swimming, you share the water—and the germs in it—with every other person who enters the pool. It takes just one person to contaminate an entire pool,” said Julie Awbrey, SRHD’s Water Recreation program manager. “That’s why all swimmers need to take an active role in preventing the spread of germs and this campaign is meant to show them how.”
Drowning Prevention at Home
At home and in other residential pools and spas, specific to drowning, the campaign emphasizes combining safety measures. This is called adding “layers of protection.” Illustrations encourage individuals to focus on always watching children in or around water, while also ensuring there are barriers and alarms installed for additional protection. Enroll children in swimming lessons early and put weak swimmers in life jackets. And always be prepared for an emergency.
Drowning Prevention in Public
In public pools, Pool Safe specifies hazards to be aware of and how to prevent them. Always watch children in or around the water—lifeguards are not babysitters. There is no substitute for supervision. Put weak swimmers in life jackets and be prepared for an emergency by learning CPR and keeping a phone with you. To prevent a child being trapped underwater in the pool’s suction drain, teach swimmers not to play near them.
Recreational Water Illnesses at Home
To prevent RWIs—when germs or chemicals in a pool make someone sick, the campaign encourages several prevention steps including staying out of the water when ill—including up to two weeks after symptoms have stopped—and showering with soap before getting into the pool. The campaign also emphasizes not drinking pool water and if an individual has to pee or poop, to not do it in the pool!
Recreational Water Illness in Public
Many of the same prevention tips for illnesses at home apply for public pools. Additionally, fact sheets for the campaign also cover common myths associated with RWIs, like ‘chlorine kills germs in a swimming pool right away’ or ‘a strong chlorine smell means lots of chlorine in the pool’. For the facts about these illnesses and more data and tips, the fact sheets are a great resource for the community. To view the entire campaign and related fact sheets, go to

Information can also be found at SRHD’s web site offers comprehensive, updated information about Spokane Regional Health District and its triumphs in making Spokane a safer and healthier community. Become a fan of SRHD on Facebook to receive local safety and wellness tips. You can also follow us on Twitter @spokanehealth