WNY Family Magazine July 2019 | Page 30

I ’ll never forget those afternoons at the swim club growing up when we all had to evacuate the pool because of the floating brown object that looked like a candy bar — but we all knew what it really was. It was such a bummer to lose out on swim time, and ev- eryone at the club tried to figure out who the culprit was. How embarrassing! Those moments are certainly par for the course. Summertime is filled with hours of fun in the pool, but before your kids dive in, be sure to think about the germs and chemicals that may be hiding in the pool water and what you can do to protect them so that your day, week, or entire summer is not ruined. All Kinds Of Germs Are Lurking In The Water Recreational water illnesses (RWIs) are caused by germs found in swimming pools, hot tubs, water parks, water play areas, or fountains, and spread when we swallow or come in contact with the contaminated wa- ter. They can cause a number of health issues, such as gastrointestinal, skin, ear, eye, and wound infections. The most common RWI is diarrhea, which can be caused by germs like Cryptosporidium (Crypto), Giardia, Shigella, norovirus, and E. coli. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released new in- formation warning parents about Crypto since outbreaks linked to swimming have doubled since 2014. This parasite is the most common cause of diarrheal illness linked to swimming pools, lead- ing to bothersome stomach problems that will be sure to interrupt summer fun. It spreads when people swallow something that has come in contact with the feces of a sick person infected with Crypto, such as pool water contaminated with diarrhea. Unfortunately, Crypto can make someone sick for up to three weeks with watery diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea, and vomiting, and can lead to dehydration if not addressed properly. Crypto can be problematic since it is not easily killed by chlorine and can 30 WNY Family July 2019 lifeguards consistently checking the pool water.  Give your kids bathroom breaks throughout the day and make sure they are wiped thoroughly. For those children still in diapers, check the diapers in a changing area and not right next to the pool in order to keep the pool area germ-free. Also, be aware that swim diapers are not fool- proof, and poop can still leak into the pool even if your little one is wearing one.  Finally, if your kids are sick with a stomach issue, keep them out of the pool so they do not spread their germs to other swimmers. How To Protect Your Kids From the Hidden Germs & Chemicals Lurking in Swimming Pools — by Sandi Schwartz survive up to 10 days even in properly treated water. Swallowing just a little water that contains these germs can make anyone sick. CDC recommends closing pools and treating the water with high levels of chlorine, called hyperchlo- rination, when responding to a pool con- tamination issue or a Crypto outbreak. You can take some precautions to help protect your family from getting sick from Crypto.  First and foremost, teach your kids not to swallow any pool wa- ter starting from a young age. This can be challenging when they are really little, and accidents do hap- pen, but add it to your list of pool safety tips.  Next, rinse off your children in the shower before and after they are in the water to help remove any germs on their body.  You should also check out the pool to make sure it is clean, safe, and well-maintained. Only swim where there are trained staff and Risks Of Chlorine Exposure Chlorine is used to protect our health by killing germs, but it can also cause some problems. When chlorine combines with urine, feces, sweat, dirt, skin cells, and personal care products that end up floating around in the pool water, chemical irritants called chloramines are formed. You know that strong odor you sometimes smell at pools, especially indoor ones? You are probably smell- ing the chloramines, which can turn into gas in the surrounding air. Breathing in or coming into contact with chloramines can cause negative health effects like asthma attacks; respiratory symptoms such as nasal irritation, coughing, and wheezing; red and stinging eyes; and skin irritation and rashes. In fact, a 2006 Belgian study showed that indoor chlorine pools can trigger the development of asthma in children younger than 7 years old. But indoor pools are not the only problem. A study released by the European Respiratory So- ciety demonstrated that even regular use of outdoor chlorinated pools significantly increased the risk of developing asthma. What can you do to protect your kid’s health from chlorine fumes?  Opt for more natural, outdoor swimming areas like lakes, rivers, and the ocean.