During the fifties, and still today, most people associated recreational water with bathing areas such as beaches along lakes or rivers. However, by the nineties our population had increasing access to numerous types of water used for recreational or therapeutic purposes. Public swimming or wading pools, including wave action pools, water slides, and hot tubs are other examples where the public expose themselves to one of the most essential and potentially enjoyable elements of nature – water.
In order to fully appreciate this natural phenomenon, health and safety precautions must be observed to prevent infections and serious injuries. Young and old alike need to be cautious when entering natural bathing areas and know the water before attempting carefree activities. Bathers are advised to avoid swallowing surface waters, even if the water appears clean and clear.
The public should be wary and informed of Swimmer’s Itch which occurs in late June and peaks during July as a result of a natural parasitic larvae occurring in ‘snail occupied’ natural bodies of fresh water.
Recognized public bathing areas are normally inspected and posted as unsafe for bathing when conditions deteriorate, usually as a result of persistent high bacteria counts exceeding provincial guidelines. The ‘advisory’ would be removed when water quality improves. Bathers should likewise use their own judgement when swimming in unsupervised or questionable areas that may be subject to pollution. If there is any real doubt, check with the local public health inspector before using suspect swimming areas. In this regard there are numerous aspects to be addressed including natural phenomenon such as ‘foaming’ of surface waters and tree pollen during June. Even algae blooms can be diverse and cause major concerns. Further hidden or unknown dangers may include occasional, seasonal, or persistent high bacteria counts.
Everyone can contribute to safer water use by being alert, environmentally conscious, and sensitive to the prevailing circumstances: in other words, apply good common sense to prevent illness, serious injury or even death. The Public Health Unit trusts that Grey-Bruce residents and visitors will practise safety with all water-related recreational activities.
For further information call Public Health Unit at 376-9420 or 1-800-263-3456, or visit our web site at www.publichealthgreybruce.on.ca
- 30 -