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Enjoy the water and stay healthy

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Swimming and other water-related activities are enjoyable ways to spend a summer day. However, many people have become sick from germs found in contaminated recreational water.

Recreational Water Illnesses (RWIs) are the various illnesses caused by germs spread by swallowing, breathing in mists or aerosols of, or having contact with contaminated water in swimming pools, waterparks, hot tubs, interactive fountains or water play areas (spray parks), lakes, rivers, or oceans.

To ensure a healthy swimming experience every time, some precautions should be followed to prevent RWIs:

Three Steps for all Swimmers

  • 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. Germs on your body end up in the water.

Three Steps for Parents of Young Children

  • Take your kids on bathroom breaks and check diapers often.
  • Change diapers in a bathroom or a diaper-changing area and not at poolside.
  • Wash your children thoroughly (especially the rear end) with soap and water before they go swimming.

Public Health Madison and Dane County sanitarians conduct monthly inspections at public pools to check safety and water quality issues. For more information, go to PHMDC pool page.

All public beaches in Dane County are monitored by Public Health - Madison & Dane County. During the swimming season (Memorial Day - Labor Day), Public Health conducts water quality testing at 13 Madison beaches, the UW Union beach and two Dane County beaches.

For more information, go to PHMDC beach page.

For more information about healthy swimming visit: CDC's Healthy Swimming website at www.cdc.gov/healthyswimming The Environmental Protection Agency's beaches website at www.epa.gov/beaches.