As the weather shifts to warmer temperatures and we prepare to hit the pools and beaches, it's important to remember to stay safe in the water.
Swimming is a lot of fun, but drowning is a real danger. Approximately 80 people die every year in British Columbia as a result of drowning. Drowning can happen fast, sometimes in less than two minutes after a person's head is under water. Many drownings and near-drownings occur accidentally and accidents can happen anytime.
"Swimming and other water-related activities are a great way to stay active throughout the summer," said Marcus Lem, medical health officer, Fraser Health. "However, it's important to be aware of ways to prevent injury, drowning or recreational water-borne illnesses."
Some pools, hot tubs and even lakes can contain bacteria that can make you sick. You should avoid swallowing water or entering the water if you have an open wound or an infection to reduce your risk.
Some beaches in the area may be affected by swimmer's itch, which is caused by a waterborne parasite. It can result in a temporary skin rash. Affected beaches will have signs posted advising of the issue and providing information on avoiding the problem. Rest assured, swimmer's itch is considered more of a nuisance than a health hazard.
Fraser Health's environmental health officers inspect, and approve commercial and public pools and hot tubs regularly for public safety. They also monitor recreational beaches during the swimming season. Information on beach advisories and inspection reports can be found on the Fraser Health website at www.fraserhealth. ca/your_environment/recreational_water .
Here are some tips to follow to protect yourself and your children: Swim safe: Never swim alone. Always swim with a buddy.
Children require constant supervision around pools. A child can drown in seconds in only a few inches of water.
Never swim farther or in deeper water than you can handle.
Never dive into unknown water. Underwater objects may appear deeper than they are.
If you own a pool, install a fence around the pool with a gate that cannot be opened by a child. Also childproof or lock doors that open directly to a backyard pool area.
Learn life saving techniques including artificial respiration at your local community centre or pool.
Some things Environmental Health Inspectors look for at pools and hot tubs:
Pool water is free of total coliforms and "Pseudomonas" (soo-doh-MOH-nas) bacteria, which can cause an itchy rash and ear infections).
That the operator is maintaining a record of chlorine and pH readings.
That there is a first aid kit and a working telephone on site.
That the water is not murky or cloudy. That depth markings are visibly marked on the side of the pool.
That the physical pool structure is well maintained.
? For more information visit:
* Health Canada, recreational water: www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ewh-semt/water-eau/recreat/index-eng.php.
* HealthLink BC, safety tips for swimmers: www.healthlinkbc.ca/healthfiles/hfile39. stm.
* HealthLink BC, swimmer's itch: www. healthlinkbc.ca/healthfiles/hfile52.stm.