Enjoy the Water: Pool Health and Safety

As the swimming season approaches, Fargo Cass Public Health is reminding everyone to practice healthy swimming behaviors, including ways to prevent recreational water illnesses (RWIs). RWIs are caused by germs in pool areas and can be spread by swallowing, breathing in, or direct contact with contaminated water in swimming pools, water parks, hot tubs, interactive fountains, water play areas, lakes, rivers, or oceans.

Although pool inspectors check to make sure public pools are safe, they can’t be at every pool every day. To help ensure a healthy swimming experience, swimmers are encouraged to follow these steps:

o Check pool water yourself using test strips purchased at your local hardware or pool supply store
o Ask the pool operator about chlorine and pH levels and request information on the latest pool inspection score
o Encourage pool operators to take steps shown to kill the germs that cause RWIs
o Educate other swimmers about RWIs to promote healthy swimming

The best way to prevent RWIs is to keep germs out of the pool in the first place. Follow these six steps for a safe and healthy swimming experience:

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 or 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.

Pool Fencing:

Under Fargo city and Cass County ordinances, any swimming pool that is more than two feet deep and has a recirculation system is considered a permanent swimming pool. So even if a pool sits on a lawn and is put away at the end of summer, the permanent pool regulations may still apply.

All permanent swimming pools, both in and above ground, must be completely enclosed by a fence or other permanent barrier that is at least five feet high. The fence around a pool should include a gate or door which latches from the inside.

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