Experts give tips for Healthy and Safe Swimming Week

Keep germs out of the water, your body; Keep swimmers and boaters safe in the water

Photo of Angela Mulka
Drowning is the leading cause of unintentional injury death for children ages one to four years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In the Great Lakes, over 1,000 drownings occurred between 2010 and 2021.

Drowning is the leading cause of unintentional injury death for children ages one to four years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In the Great Lakes, over 1,000 drownings occurred between 2010 and 2021.

Matthew Clara/MI Dept. of Natural Resources

It's Tuesday and the holiday weekend is coming fast. The unofficial start to summer begins after Memorial Day, but the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is reminding Michiganders of safe habits and laws that they should be aware of when out on the water.

MDHHS recognized May 23-29 as Healthy and Safe Swimming Week in a press release on Monday, explaining what you can do to keep your family safe and healthy this swimming season. 

"Everyone plays a role in preventing pool-related illnesses, injuries and deaths," Natasha Bagdasarian, the chief medical executive for MDHHS said in the release. "Use proper hygiene when maintaining and using pools, make sure you and loved ones have basic swimming and water safety skills when partaking in water sports, and prevent access to backyard pools when not supervised."

To keep germs out of the water and your body, MDHHS suggested: Don't swallow the water, stay out of the water if you have diarrhea, shower before you get in the water, don't pee or poop in the water, take children on bathroom breaks or check diapers every hour and change diapers away from the water.

Between 2012 and 2021, 19 outbreaks reported in Michigan were linked to swimming in treated and untreated water locations including pools, hot tubs and freshwater lakes. More than 713 estimated recreational water illnesses including illnesses due to E. coli and Legionella were reported — likely an underestimate, according to MDHHS.

It’s also important to prevent pool-related injuries, such as drowning or those caused by mishandling pool chemicals.

Drowning is the leading cause of unintentional injury death for children ages one to four years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In the Great Lakes, over 1,000 drownings occurred between 2010 and 2021, according to MDHHS.

To keep swimmers and boaters safe in the water, MDHHS suggested: Make sure everyone has basic swimming skills, use U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets, choose a responsible adult to provide continuous supervision close to swimmers, know how to respond to a swimmer in distress and how to perform CPR and prevent access to backyard pools when not supervised.

MDHHS also recommended people get their boating safety certificate, which is required for boaters born after June 30, 1996, and most personal watercraft operators. Click on Boating Safety Certificate at Michigan.gov/Boating.

Officials for the U.S. Coast Guard discussed the importance of life jackets, local boating hazards, essential and recommended boating equipment and other aspects of boating safety at an event Monday afternoon.

Officials for the U.S. Coast Guard discussed the importance of life jackets, local boating hazards, essential and recommended boating equipment and other aspects of boating safety at an event Monday afternoon.

David Kenyon/MI Dept. of Natural Resources

Additionally, President Joe Biden declared this week, May 21-27, National Safe Boating Week.

In 2020, three-quarters of boating deaths were drownings, and nearly 7 out of every 8 drowning victims were not wearing a life jacket, according to the White House.

Officials for the U.S. Coast Guard discussed the importance of life jackets, local boating hazards, essential and recommended boating equipment and other aspects of boating safety at an event Monday afternoon.

Check out the Coast Guard Boating Safety app. You can file a float plan, request assistance, request a vessel safety check and report pollution and hazards to navigation.

More information and safety tips on preventing swimming illness and injury are available at Cdc.gov/HealthyWater/Swimming.