Healthy and Safe Swimming Information Sources – Memorial Day 2016 Edition

Healthy and Safe Swimming Week is May 23-29, 2016.

Following is a list of information sources for healthy and safe swimming.  This list was compiled by the Virginia Water Monitoring Council (VWMC), with financial support from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency through the Virginia Department of Health .  More information on the VWMC is available online at http://www.VirginiaWMC.org; or contact Jane Walker at vwmc@vt.edu.

Please feel free to re-distribute this information.  If you forward the information or post it online, please let the VWMC know (at the e-mail address above) so that they can report it to the funder.

1 – Healthy and Safe Swimming Week  Materials

The week focuses on simple steps swimmers and pool operators can take to help ensure a healthy and safe swimming experience.  It focuses on preventing drowning, pool chemical injuries, and outbreaks of illnesses.  Easy and effective healthy swimming steps all swimmers can take can be found at http://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/swimming/swimmers/index.html.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Web site has promotional materials (brochures, buttons & banners, fact sheets, infographics, podcasts, posters, mobile apps, social media library, stories, and videos) to educate the public.  To learn more, see: http://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/observances/hss-week/index.html.

The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) is promoting Healthy and Safe Swimming Week at www.swimhealthyVA.com.  A statewide press release was issued and is available at: http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/news/public-relations-contacts/news-releases/2016-statewide-news-releases/.

2 – Beach Monitoring in Virginia

Bacteria levels in beach water are monitored at 46 public beaches on the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean of Virginia during the swimming season (May-September).

Water samples are collected weekly by Local Health Departments and analyzed by local laboratories for enterococci bacteria. If bacteria levels exceed Virginia’s Water Quality Standard of 104 colony forming units (cfu)/100 mL of water, a swimming advisory is issued. Enterococci bacteria serve as an indicator for fecal contamination in salt and brackish waters. These organisms are not harmful themselves, but indicate that other potentially harmful organisms may be present. High levels of enterococci bacteria indicate an increased health risk to recreational water users.

Beach monitoring results are available at http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/environmental-epidemiology/beach-monitoring/.  Follow VDH’s Beach Monitoring Program on Twitter (@VDHBeach) to receive weekly results and swimming advisories: https://twitter.com/VDHBeach.

For links to information about current swimming advisories and monitored beaches, beach advisory and monitoring data, links to local beaches, local health department contacts, and special projects, visit: http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/environmental-epidemiology/beach-monitoring/.

3 – “Beaches and Bacteria” Article

This article was updated in January 2014 and is available at https://vawatercentralnewsgrouper.wordpress.com/2014/01/29/beaches-and-bacteria-january-2014-update-of-an-august-2004-virginia-water-central-article/.  It was first published by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center in Virginia Water Central (August 2004).  The article describes:

  • The difference between a beach advisory and a beach closure
  • The Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health (BEACH) Act
  • The types of indicator organisms monitored at Virginia’s beaches
  • Virginia’s bacteria standards
  • Microbial Source Tracking

4 – “Safely Enjoying Virginia’s Natural Waters” Brochure

This brochure, published by the Virginia Department of Health, covers topics such as:

  • What organisms are in natural waters and where do they come from?
  • What are the health risks and how are they determined?
  • Why avoid natural water after a heavy rain?
  • What you can do to protect yourself.

Go to http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/content/uploads/sites/12/2016/04/Safely-Enjoy-Natural-Waters_v2.pdf  to download a PDF document of the brochure

5 – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Healthy Swimming web page: http://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/swimming/ – Provides information on the following topics and more:

  • Swimmers – Health Benefits; How to Swim Healthy; Recreational Water Illnesses;  Drowning, Injury, & Sun Protection; State-based Healthy Swimming Information
  • Residential Pool or Hot Tub Owners – Disinfection & Testing; Cleaning and Remediation; Animals & Pools
  • Public Health Professionals – Outbreak Response Toolkits; Pool & Hot Tub/Spa Inspections
  • Aquatics Professionals – Design & Construction; Operation & Maintenance; Policies & Management; Regulation & Inspection
  • Medical Professionals – 5 Prevention Messages; Training & Patient Education; Infection Control

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