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Healthy and Safe Swimming Week: Maryland promotes safe fun in the water

5/26/2016, noon
The Secretaries of Health and Mental Hygiene, Environment, and Natural Resources remind all Marylanders that National Healthy and Safe Swimming ...
Olympic swimmer Cullen Jones teaches Baltimore children swimming fundamentals in 2013.

The Secretaries of Health and Mental Hygiene, Environment, and Natural Resources remind all Marylanders that National Healthy and Safe Swimming Week is the week before Memorial Day, from May 23-29, 2016. This year, the three Departments are focusing on simple steps that swimmers and pool operators can take to so that everyone has a safe and healthy swimming experience.

“We’re approaching the kickoff of the summer season – which means fun in the water for many residents,” said Health and Mental Hygiene Secretary Van T. Mitchell. “We want everyone to know how to prevent illness around the water – whether in pools, hot tubs, lakes, rivers or oceans.”

Environment Secretary Ben Grumbles listed the Maryland Healthy Beaches website and smartphone app as examples. “From Memorial Day to Labor Day, the Maryland Healthy Beaches website and app delivers updated information on conditions at the nearly 200 monitored beaches in Maryland, and it provides the dos and don'ts for swimmers to stay healthy and waters to keep clean,” said Secretary Grumbles.

“With Memorial Day weekend and the start of summer right around the corner, the department urges everyone to practice water safety – only swim in guarded areas, and keep an eye on children and non-swimmers,” Department of Natural Resources Secretary Mark Belton said. “It's critical that swimmers, anglers, boaters and paddlers remain safe, smart and aware when enjoying Maryland waters. Please remember to wear a life jacket.”

Swimming is one of Maryland’s most popular sporting and leisure activities. This year’s campaign will increase awareness of the simple things people can do to prevent the most common and serious health and safety risks associated with recreational water activities – drownings and injuries, sunburns and potential infections:

· Never swim alone.

· Be vigilant about small children’s activities and whereabouts.

· Use swim vests on all children at the beach, and for weaker swimmers in pools.

· Don’t swallow pool or beach water.

· Change children’s diapers often, to minimize the risk of contaminating water.

· Don’t swim when you have diarrhea.

· Follow the package directions when using pool chemicals.

· Stay out of the water if it has a strange color.

· Reapply sunscreen frequently through the day.

· Drink plenty of fluids.

· Use bug/mosquito spray as needed – especially as Maryland takes steps to guard against the Zika virus.

· Learn how to avoid and to escape rip currents.

· Save contact information for emergency personnel in your cell phone.

It is easy to stay safe and healthy while enjoying the water. Keep your family healthy and safe this summer season, and enjoy all that Maryland’s recreational waters have to offer. For more information, contact the Health and Mental Hygiene’s Environmental Health Bureau toll-free at 1-866-703-3266, or email dhmh.envhealth@maryland.gov. You also can find current information on Maryland’s beaches on the Healthy Beaches website, at http://www.marylandhealthybeaches.org. Health and Mental Hygiene’s site on safe and healthy swimming is http://goo.gl/OhSyNO.