Recreational Water Illness and Injury Prevention Week 2014--Stay Healthy and Safe While Swimming


 From the Office of the Commissioner of Health, Dr. Gale R. Burstein

Date May 23, 2014                            

CONTACT: Mary C. St. Mary/Mary.StMary@Erie.Gov

Phone: 716.858.4941/ Mobile: 716.253.3925


Recreational Water Illness and Injury Prevention Week 2014

 Stay Healthy and Safe While Swimming


ERIE COUNTY, NY— The week before Memorial Day (May 19–25, 2014) is Recreational Water Illness and Injury (RWII) Prevention Week. The goal of RWII Prevention Week is to maximize the health benefits of swimming by promoting healthy and safe swimming. The Erie County Department of Health (“ECDOH”) is sharing the following guidelines to help prevent drowning, injuries (such as from mishandling pool chemicals), and illnesses caused by germs in the places we swim.

“The Sanitarians who work in our Environmental Health division inspect and permit 380 pools annually” said Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein. “They diligently ensure that all permitted facilities are in compliance with the strict standards of the New York State Sanitary Codes.”

Burstein continued: “While we can help keep pool water safe from germs and make sure they are properly disinfected, only parents and other caregivers can ensure their children are safe when swimming. Drowning is the leading cause of injury death for children 1-4 years old in the United States. It is vital that continuous and attentive supervision is provided when children are in or near the water. By preventing access to backyard pools when not in use through barrier fencing and weight-bearing pool covers, an unnecessary tragedy can be prevented as Erie County enjoys warmer weather this Memorial Day weekend.”

In addition, illness can be caused by germs present in the water we swim in. Chlorine and other disinfectants can kill most germs within minutes. However, some can survive for days. Urine and sweat mix with chlorine and form chemicals that can cause eye redness and trigger an asthma attack. All swimmers should: stay out of the water if you have diarrhea, shower with soap before you start swimming, don’t urinate or defecate in the water and don’t swallow the water. Parents of young children should be sure swim diapers are used where appropriate and take children on bathroom breaks every 60 minutes, or check diapers every 30–60 minutes. “So it’s very important to keep germs, fecal matter, and urine out of the water we all swim in” concluded Burstein.

Caution is also advised when handling pool chemicals. Be sure to always read and follow the directions on product labels, as well as wear appropriate safety equipment such as gloves, goggles and masks. Add pool chemicals poolside ONLY when directed by product label and when no one is in the water. In order to prevent violent, potentially explosive, reactions:

• NEVER mix different pool chemicals with each other, especially chlorine products with acid

• Pre-dissolve pool chemicals ONLY when directed by product label

• Add pool chemical to water, NEVER water to pool chemical

Be safe this holiday weekend while enjoying swimming and water sports appropriately!

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For more information:

Erie County Department of Health –

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention –

New York State – Department of State, Office of Planning & Development, Swimming Pools and Regulations

Department of Health --


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Phone: (716) 858-7690

Fax: (716) 858-8701

Erie County Department of Health (ECDOH)
95 Franklin Street
Buffalo, New York 14202

ECDOH Locations