As area pools open for Memorial Day, parents warned about water safety, sanitation

Dayton Children’s said there were 3 children deaths and 18-near drownings in swimming accidents last year.

As area swimming pools open up as warmer weather hits, parents are being advised by health officials to keep water safety in mind.

In 2020, Dayton Children’s Hospital saw patients from 18 near-drownings and three deaths from drowning. There are also some outbreaks that can stem from germs spread from pools and swimming.

Public Health officials say simple precautions and proper pool maintenance can keep everyone safe.

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drowning kills more children ages 1 to 4 years old more than anything else except birth defects.

Adults sometimes mistakenly think they will hear a child struggling in the water, but kids can slip underwater unheard.

“It’s important to keep an eye on your child, even if there’s a lifeguard present,” said Jennifer Wentzel, director of environmental health at Public Health - Dayton & Montgomery County.

Children should not swim alone and there should be an adult dedicated as a water watcher. This is one adult who does nothing but watch the children in the water, without distractions like checking cellphones or reading.

Teaching kids to swim can help reduce the risk. Adults should learn safety skills just in case, like CPR, the CDC recommends.

Make sure kids wear life jackets in and around natural bodies of water, such as lakes or the ocean, even if they know how to swim. Life jackets can be used in and around pools for weaker swimmers too, the CDC advises.

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“If your kids are not swimmers, be in the water with them,” Wentzel said.

Larger pools should be surrounded with gates fences or other barriers with locks to keep children away from the water when unsupervised. Small pools should be drained after being used.

There are also germs that can spread in the water, like cryptosporidium, norovirus and E. coli.

Swimmers are advised to rinse off before getting into the water, according to Bryan Lemons, a registered environmental health specialist for Public Health - Dayton & Montgomery County.

Pool chemicals are added to the water to kill germs if used properly, but when urine, sweat, dirt and other contaminants rinse off people and into the pool, the chemicals break down other things instead of killing germs. Anyone with diarrhea should stay out of the pool.

Parents are advised not to change diapers poolside but instead to go into one of the restrooms, and they should have small children take frequent bathroom breaks.

“We don’t have any inadvertent contaminants getting into our water supply,” Lemons said.

People should practice good hand hygiene, washing their hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds in hot running water, he said.

Lemons, speaking at the Kettering Rec Center pool ahead of the Memorial Day weekend, said health workers inspect pools that the public uses to test water and make sure the facilities are following safety rules.

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