Healthy and Safe Swimming Week

News Release
For Immediate Release: 5/25/2023

Alycia Davis, (531) 249-8079,

Lincoln – Swimming and other water activities are a fun and healthy way to stay active while spending quality time with family and friends during summer in Nebraska. This week aims to give Nebraskans the information they need to maximize the health benefits of swimming and other water-based activities while minimizing the risk of illness and injury.

Contaminated water can make individuals sick if swallowed and should be avoided. Although chlorine kills most germs, the germ Cryptosporidium (or crypto) can survive in treated water for more than seven days. To avoid contamination, it is advised to stay out of the water when sick with diarrhea, shower before getting in the water, and take children on bathroom breaks every hour. Additionally, the CDC recommends drying ears thoroughly with a towel when getting out of the water.

Drowning is also a serious concern. More children ages 1-4 die from drowning than any other cause of death, except birth defects. For children ages 1-14, drowning is the second leading cause of death. Although rates are higher in children, adults are also at risk of drowning.

To avoid drowning, make sure everyone has basic swimming and water safety skills. Designating a responsible adult to supervise swimmers is essential. Supervisors should know how to recognize and respond to swimmers in distress. Supervisors should also be trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Pool owners should also prevent access to water when the pool is not in use. This can be done by installing and maintaining barriers that fully enclose the pool, separating it from the house, and using locks and alarms for windows and doors.

Pool maintenance can also be dangerous. Chemicals like chlorine do protect swimmers' health, but mishandling such chemicals can cause serious injuries. Pool chemicals lead to around 4,500 visits to the emergency room each year. To prevent such injuries, read and follow all product information and labels. Individuals handling pool chemicals should also wear safety equipment such as masks, gloves, and goggles. Chemicals should be kept away from children and pets.

In August 2022, Nebraska reported the first death from infection with Naegleria fowleri, an ameba commonly found in warm freshwater lakes, rivers, canals, and ponds throughout the United States. It causes a brain infection that results when water containing the ameba rushes up the nose. The infection is extremely rare, but nearly always fatal. Infections typically occur later in the summer, in warmer water with slower flow, in July, August, and September. Limiting the opportunities for freshwater to get into the nose is the best way to reduce the risk of infection.

There are additional steps Nebraskans can take to stay safe in our lakes and rivers. Avoid water that contains harmful algal or cyanobacterial blooms – When in doubt, stay out!

  • Look for posted signs or other advisories from local public health authorities.
  • Do not go into water that:
    • Smells bad
    • Looks discolored
    • Has foam, scum, algal mats, or paint-like streaks on the surface
    • Has dead fish or other animals washed up on its shore
  • Keep children and pets away from playing in or drinking scummy water.
  • If you or your pets go in water that may have a bloom, rinse yourself and your pets immediately with tap water. Do not allow pets to lick their fur until they have been rinsed.

For more information about healthy and safe swimming practices, visit

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