8 Ways to Prevent Recreational Water Illnesses

Plenty of dangerous and deadly bacteria, viruses and parasites thrive, procreate and spread in indoor and outdoor recreational water sources like pools, hot tubs, saunas, backyard splash pads, water parks, ponds, lakes, creeks, rivers and seas and at nearby areas such as beaches or on close surfaces like stairs, diving boards and lounge furniture. Many people believe incorrectly that they’re safe from Giardia, E. coli, Cryptosporidium, Legionella, Shigella, Norovirus, Vibrio vulnificus and other harmful microorganisms that fall into this category as long as they use well-maintained spots where the water has been treated daily to kill microorganisms and the surrounding structures have been thoroughly cleaned, but even well-maintained and regularly-inspected recreational water spots pose some level of risk. No area is one hundred percent safe. Not only do some microorganisms survive public water source chemical treatments, but those toxic chemicals and outdoor industrial and other forms of contamination can make people sick. And, of course, other people can contaminate treated water. The resulting associated recreational waterborne illnesses can cause fever, asthma, allergic reactions, infections, nausea, cramping and weight loss. Some illnesses can even cause major internal organs often thought of as “safe” from infection like the spinal cord and brain to have severe problems.

That said, you and your loved ones don’t have to give up water sports and other water-based play because of these risks. It’s entirely possible to prevent the most dangerous recreational water illnesses and decrease the chances of contracting microorganisms or dealing with contaminates that cause mild-to-moderate ones. To keep you and your loved ones safe from a recreational water illness, you simply need to follow these eight important steps:

1. Stay Out Of Water If You Have Diarrhea

Although this might seem like a common sense concept, many people go into the water after they’ve just had difficulty with uncontrollable bowel movements. They then contaminate others with something that their body has been fighting off or pick up another illness. Diarrhea might be the result of something that you can spread to others via the water or by touch. This is known as infectious diarrhea. Even if you’re fastidious with hygiene and you wash thoroughly beforehand, you can suffer leakage or even a sudden bowel movement after a previous one. Also, the human immune system can only handle so much strain. If you’re dealing with diarrhea, your body isn’t in its best possible shape. Your immune system and total body might have greater difficulty fighting against a secondary illness than someone who isn’t sick. If you’re not worried about catching something from the water, you should at least have the decency to worry about what you might accidentally introduce to it and the impact that your waste and potentially an illness could have on someone else who is simply in the water swimming or relaxing in the sun. Anything that you’re carrying could potentially remain capable of spreading to others in a pool, for example, several days later. The germs that you spread in the water or nearby rest areas, whether bacterial, viral or parasitical, can also cause severe, life-threatening dehydration in high risk individuals like those with poor immune systems, children, the elderly and pregnant women.