Ways to stay healthy, safe while swimming

Though the recent cool weather and high water conditions don’t exactly beckon going for a swim, the time likely will come when getting into the water will seem like a great idea on a hot day.

With that in mind, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services encourages residents to maximize the benefits of swimming with healthy and safe habits. As part of May 20-26 is designated as Healthy and Safe Swimming Week.

This year, much of the focus is on hazards potentially lurking in water that can’t be seen. From 2012 to 2018, Michigan had 12 illness outbreaks reported linked to swimming in treated and untreated water locations, including pools, hot tubs and freshwater lakes. More than 660 estimated recreational water illnesses — confirmed or suspected — were reported; the actual number almost definitely is higher, the MDHHS added.

While chlorine and other disinfectants kill many germs within minutes, some germs can survive for days even when water is treated appropriately. For that reason, it’s important to keep germs, human waste, sweat and dirt out of water where people swim. In addition to making us sick, these materials can combine with chlorine and form chemicals that can make our eyes red and trigger asthma attacks.

Some tips on staying safe and healthy this swimming season —

— Keep germs out of the water: Stay out of the water if you have diarrhea, shower before you get in the water, don’t pee or poop in the water and take children out for hourly bathroom breaks.

— Keep swimmers safe in the water: Make sure everyone knows how to swim, use life jackets appropriately and provide continuous, attentive supervision close to swimmers.

— Use chemicals safely in home pools: Read and follow directions on product labels; open chemical containers safely, using proper protective equipment in a well-ventilated area; NEVER mix different pool chemicals with each other, especially chlorine products with acid; and add the chemical to water, NEVER water to pool chemical; and store pool chemicals securely.

For more information and safety tips about preventing swimming illness and injury, go to the CDC website.