Healthy and Safe Swimming Week

The week before Memorial Day, May 22–28, 2017, marks the thirteenth annual Healthy and Safe Swimming Week (HSSW). This is a great time to engage and collaborate with aquatic facility operators, beach managers, the media, residential pool or hot tub/spa owners, and the public to maximize the health benefits of water-based physical activity while minimizing the risk of recreational water–associated illness and injury in your community.
The theme of this year’s HSSW is “Diarrhea and Swimming Don’t Mix.” Diarrheal incidents (e.g., Cryptosporidium contamination events) in recreational water can lead to outbreaks. Public health and the aquatic sector should collaborate to educate bathers and encourage them to stay out of recreational water if they have diarrhea to help keep their families and friends healthy.

Healthy and Safe Swimming Week: Response Tools for Public Health Professionals

We also encourage you to educate bathers about risks related to swimming in untreated venues such as lakes, where exposure to Naegleria fowleri, “the brain-eating ameba,” and harmful algal blooms (HABs) can occur. In consultation with state and federal partners, CDC developed the One Health Harmful Algal Bloom System (OHHABS), which provides local, state, and territorial public health partners a mechanism to voluntarily report human and animal cases of harmful algal bloom–associated illness. CDC launched OHHABS in June 2016. To learn more about OHHABS, visit

To encourage and support your HSSW efforts, we have provided this health promotion toolkit, which includes community outreach suggestions; a web-based resource list; and a sample press release, op-ed piece, and proclamation. We hope you will find these resources useful as you engage your community during HSSW. For additional information about HSSW, visit:

Finally, the second biennial conference of the Council for the Model Aquatic Health Code (CMAHC) will be held October 17–18, 2017 in Denver, Colorado. The conference will provide a forum to discuss proposed changes to CDC’s Model Aquatic Health Code (national guidance to minimize the risk for illness and injury at public aquatic facilities) that CMAHC members will vote on. Voting results will be sent to CDC for consideration in developing the 2018 MAHC (3rd Edition). If you are not yet a CMAHC member, become a member today ( and help ensure that public health’s voice is heard!

Why Is This Important?

A Few Simple and Effective Prevention Steps We Can All Take

Illnesses caused by the germs in the places we swim:
In 2011–2012 (the last years for which national data are available), 90 outbreaks were linked to swimming; almost half of these outbreaks were caused by Cryptosporidium (or “Crypto” for short). Chlorine can kill most germs within minutes at concentrations recommended by CDC and typically required by state and local health departments. But Crypto can survive more than one week at these chlorine concentrations. Diarrheal incidents in the water we share and swim in can easily spread germs and potentially cause outbreaks. Because chlorine and other disinfectants don’t kill germs instantly, it’s important to keep these germs, particularly Crypto, out of the water in the first place and not drink the water we share and swim in, this summer and year round.

For more info, visit

Every swimmer should:

  • Stay out of the water if you have diarrhea.
  • Shower before you get in the water.
  • Don’t pee or poop in the water.
  • Don’t swallow the water.

Every hour—everyone out!

  • Take kids on bathroom breaks.
  • Check diapers and change them in a bathroom or diaper-changing area—not poolside—to keep germs away from the pool.

FREE printed English and Spanish Healthy Swimming brochures are available at

Every day, two children less than 14 years old die from drowning. Drowning is a leading cause of injury death for children ages 1–4 years.

For more info, visit

Keep swimmers safe in the water.

  • Make sure everyone knows how to swim.
  • Use life jackets appropriately.
  • Provide continuous, attentive supervision close to swimmers.
  • Know CPR.

Prevent access to water when pool is not in use.

  • Install and maintain barriers like 4-sided fencing and weight bearing pool covers.
  • Use locks/alarms for windows and doors.

Injuries caused by mishandling pool chemicals (for pool operators and residential pool owners):
Pool chemicals are added to maintain water quality (for example, kill germs). Each year, however, mishandling of pool chemicals by operators of public pools and residential/backyard pool or hot tub/spa owners leads to 3,000–5,000 visits to emergency departments across the United States.

For more info, visit

Pool operators and residential pool owners should:

  • Read and follow directions on product labels.
  • Wear appropriate safety equipment (for example, goggles), as directed on product labels, when handling pool chemicals.
  • Secure pool chemicals to protect people, particularly young children, and animals.
  • Add pool chemicals poolside ONLY when directed by product label and when no one is in the water.

Prevent violent, potentially explosive, reactions.

  • NEVER mix different pool chemicals with each other, particularly chlorine products and acid.
  • Pre-dissolve pool chemicals ONLY when directed by product label.
    • Add pool chemical to water, NEVER water to pool chemical.

FREE printed and laminated poster on safe storage and poster
on safe handling available at

Harmful Algal Blooms:
Algae can grow in warm, nutrient-rich fresh and marine waters. When there is an abundant growth of algae that harms people or animals, it is referred to as a harmful algal bloom (HAB). HABs in fresh and marine waters can produce toxins that cause a variety of illnesses including skin irritation, coughing, sneezing, diarrhea, stomach pain, numbness, and dizziness. Symptoms can vary depending on the type of HAB toxin and the type of exposure, such as skin contact, ingestion by eating food or drinking water contaminated with HAB toxins, or breathing in tiny droplets or mist contaminated with HAB toxins.

For more info, visit

Avoid water that contains harmful algal blooms—when in doubt, stay out!

  • Look for waterbody or beach advisories announced by local public health authorities or beach managers. If the beach is closed, stay out.
  • Don’t swim, water ski, or boat in areas where the water is discolored or where you see foam, scum, or mats of algae on the water’s surface.
  • Avoid entering or swimming in bodies of water that contain or are near dead fish or other dead animals.
  • Keep children or pets from playing in or drinking scummy water.
  • If you do swim in water that might contain a harmful algal bloom, get out and rinse off with fresh water as soon as possible.
  • If pets, especially dogs, swim in scummy water, rinse them off immediately. Do not let them lick the algae off of their fur.

Naegleria fowleri “The Brain-eating Ameba”:
Naegleria fowleri is a microscopic ameba (a single-celled living organism) that is commonly found in warm fresh water like lakes, rivers, and hot springs around the world. If water containing the ameba goes up the nose forcefully, the ameba can invade and cause a rare and devastating infection of the brain called primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM).

For more info, visit:

Naegleria fowleri infection is rare. The only certain way to
prevent an infection due to swimming is not to participate in fresh water-related activities. However, you can take steps to reduce your chance of getting an infection by limiting the amount of fresh water going up your nose. To limit the amount of fresh water going up your nose:

  • Hold your nose or use nose clips when taking part in fresh water-related activities.
  • Avoid putting your head underwater in hot springs and other warm fresh water bodies.
  • Avoid water-related activities in all warm freshwater bodies during periods of high water temperature.
  • Avoid digging in or stirring up mud and scum while taking part in water-related activities in shallow, warm fresh water areas.





Healthy swimming is not just about the steps the pool operators, beach managers, and health departments take. We all need to do our part to help keep ourselves, our families, and friends healthy this summer and year round, to maximize the fun and health benefits of swimming.


The week before Memorial Day, May 23–29, 2016, marks the twelfth annual Healthy and Safe Swimming Week, formerly known as Recreational Water Illness and Injury (RWII) Prevention Week. 

Each year, Healthy and Safe Swimming Week focuses on simple steps swimmers and pool operators can take to help ensure a healthy and safe swimming experience for everyone. It focuses on the role of swimmers, aquatics and beach staff, residential pool owners, and public health officials in preventing drowning, pool chemical injuries, and outbreaks of illnesses. It highlights swimmer hygiene and the need for swimmers to take an active role in helping to protect themselves and prevent the spread of germs. These messages are reinforced by health promotion materials to educate the public on how to prevent recreational water illnesses (RWIs).

What are RWIs?
Recreational water illnesses (RWIs) are caused by germs spread by swallowing, breathing in mists or aerosols of, or having contact with contaminated water in swimming pools, hot tubs, water parks, water play areas, interactive fountains, lakes, rivers, or oceans. RWIs can also be caused by chemicals in the water or chemicals that evaporate from the water and cause indoor air quality problems. Diarrhea is the most common RWI, and it is often caused by germs like Crypto (short for Cryptosporidium), Giardia, norovirus, Shigella, and E. coli O157:H7. Other common RWIs include skin, ear, respiratory, eye, neurologic, and wound infections. Children, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems are most at risk for RWIs. More information about RWIs can be found on the CDC's Basics of RWIs page.

Healthy Swimming

Swimming and other water-related activities are excellent ways to get the physical activity and health benefits needed for a healthy life. Americans swim hundreds of millions of times in pools, oceans, lakes, rivers, and hot tubs/spas each year and most people have a safe and healthy time enjoying the water. However, it is important to be aware of ways to prevent recreational water illnesses (RWIs), sunburn, and drowning that can occur. CDC's Healthy Swimming Program and website, launched in 2001, provides information for the public, public health and medical professionals, and aquatics staff so everyone can maximize the health benefits of swimming while minimizing the risk of illness and injury. Visit the Healthy Swimming website now and gain more tips on the following:

    • Health Benefits
    • Swimmer Protection 
    • RWIs
    • Other Recreational Water Issues
    • Pools & Hot Tubs
    • Oceans, Lakes & Rivers
    • The Model Aquatic Health Code
    • Spanish Resources

    To download a full 2016 Healthy and Safe Swimming Toolkit, click here!

    Recommendations for Preventing Pool Chemical-Associated Injuries

    Chemicals are added to pool* water to kill disease-causing germs, maximize the efficacy of the disinfection process (for example, pH control), improve water quality, stop corrosion and scaling of equipment, and protect against algal growth. However, pool chemicals can also lead to injury when mixed together or when appropriate personal protective equipment is not used during handling.
    The following recommendations are based on a review of reports of pool chemical–associated injuries1-3.

    * The word "pool" is used to refer to all treated recreational water venues which include, but are not limited to, pools, water parks, hot tubs, water play areas, and interactive fountains.

    Visit the CDC's Pool Chemical Safety page to learn more about:

    • Design of Pool Chemical Storage Area and Pump Room
    • Chemical Storage
    • Maintenance and Repair
    • Pool Chemical Training for Aquatic-Facility Staff
    • Emergency Response Plan
    • Chemical Packaging and Labeling

    Information for the Public

    Information for Public Health Professionals

    Healthy Swimm App

    Did you know that the CDC offers a Healthy Swimming App available on iPads and iPhones?

    Help keep yourself and your family healthy and safe this summer swim season. If you are a pool inspector, operator or lifeguard, have the latest information at your fingertips to answer patron questions. We all share the water we play and swim in. Learn about the germs that we all bring into the places we swim, how they could make you and others sick, and how you can take a few easy and effective steps to help protect yourself and others.

    This app will tell you about:

    • How we benefit from swimming. Did you know swimming can improve your health—and your mood?
    • Where we swim. Did you know germs could be lurking anywhere you swim or play in the water—even in the pool down the street?
    • What's in the water. Did you know chlorine and other disinfectants don’t kill germs instantly?
    • How to stay healthy and safe. Healthy and safe swimming is easy with CDC's simple tips!

    Requires iOS 4.3 or later. Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. This app is optimized for iPhone 5.

    Download the app today!