With Memorial Day approaching, the Florida Department of Health-Orange County (DOH-Orange) encourages everyone to be safe when enjoying fresh water activities.
Pool safety is everyone's responsibility. Florida leads the country in drowning deaths of children ages 1-4. Drowning can be a silent catastrophe, one that can happen in the few minutes you take to answer a phone call or run inside for a towel.
Parents should know the layers of protection when it comes to water safety.
Layer 1. Supervision: Supervision, the first and most crucial layer of protection, means someone is always actively watching when a child is in the pool.
Layer 2. Barriers: Barriers physically block a child from the pool.
Layer 3. Emergency Preparedness: In an emergency, it is critical to know CPR, to have a phone nearby, and to immediately call 911. Swim lessons and life jackets are preventive measures that save lives.
For more pool safety measures, visit: http://www.watersmartfl.com/
Take precautions when enjoying fresh water activities locally or when traveling abroad, especially swimming in warm freshwater lakes, hot springs, rivers, creeks and ponds to avoid Naegleria fowleri. It's a naturally occurring amoeba that can be found in any body of fresh water and in poorly maintained swimming pools and hot tubs. The amoeba is not found in salt water.
The amoeba can cause an infection known as primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM). Almost always fatal, the amoeba travels up the nose to the brain and spinal cord. This generally happens during activities such as swimming, diving, waterskiing or wakeboarding.
Infections usually occur when it is hot for prolonged periods of time, which results in higher water temperatures and lower water levels. Although infections are rare, most prove to be fatal. Seek medical care immediately if you develop a sudden onset of fever, headache, stiff neck, and vomiting especially if you have been in warm fresh water within the previous 2 weeks.
People should always assume there is a low level of risk for infection whenever entering warm fresh water.
Below are some tips to help reduce your risk of infection.
- Avoid water-related activities in bodies of warm freshwater, hot springs, and thermally-polluted water such as water around power plants;
- Avoid water-related activities in warm freshwater during periods of high water temperature and low water levels;
- Keep your head out of the water, hold your nose shut or using nose clips when taking part in water-related activities in bodies of warm freshwater such as lakes, rivers, or hot springs; and
- Avoid digging in or stirring up the sediment while taking part in water-related activities in shallow, warm freshwater areas.
For information on the Naegleria fowleri amoeba, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention web site: https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/naegleria/index.html.