Get Healthy Carson City: Stay safe on the water

This column appears in the Nevada Appeal Wednesday health pages.

With the Memorial Day holiday having passed and temperatures forecast to climb into the 80s later this week, summer has arrived in Nevada’s capital. With the arrival of the season, Carson City residents and visitors will be flocking to our area’s lakes, rivers and swimming pools to cool off. Carson City Health and Human Services wants to remind everyone it’s important to practice healthy habits to stay safe in the water.

There are risks around the water. When we consider these risks, often drowning is the first thing to come to mind. While it’s important to be aware of drowning and recreational water-related injuries, there’s another, unseen risk: illnesses caused by microorganisms in the water. These germs, which can make people ill, can be found in contaminated swimming pools and hot tubs; lakes, rivers, and oceans; and other bodies of water. Here are a few easy and effective steps everyone can take around the water to help protect ourselves, our families and our friends from recreational water illness.

Keep germs out of the water. If you are having symptoms of intestinal illness, such as an upset stomach, vomiting, or diarrhea, don’t go swimming and risk spreading illness to others. It’s also a good idea to shower before getting in a pool or hot tub, plus it’s required by law in public facilities.

The water is not a bathroom, and should not be used as one. You should get out of the water and use the nearest restroom. If you have young kids, take bathroom breaks frequently, at least once each hour. Also, make sure to wash your hands before swimming again.

Public pools check the chlorine for you, but if you have a home pool or spa, check the chlorine level and pH before getting into the water. If it’s not adequate, add the proper amount of chemicals according to the manufacturer’s instructions before you hop in.

Don’t drink the water you swim in. This is important for everyone to be aware of, but especially important for parents of young children, since kids are more likely to drink the water and are more susceptible to illness. No one should drink water from a lake, river, or pool, or even put the water in their mouths. There can be germs in the water, even if it looks clean, and kids don’t always understand the risks. Make sure you provide a clean source of drinking water, not the water you’re swimming in.

Sometimes, germs in the water can’t be prevented, but if we all work together, we can make the water a safer, more fun place to be this summer.

For more information about other Health Department services, check out our website at, or visit us at


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