The Florida Department of Health in Lee County is encouraging parents and others to obtain and use a free pool test to ensure the treated waters in which they swim and play are free from harmful bacteria that could cause recreational water illnesses.
The Water Quality & Health Council is offering free pool test strips online at: www.healthypools.org to help reduce the risk of swimmers ear, diarrhea and skin infections from waterborne germs.
The tests show chlorine and pH levels using a simple color-coding.
"If levels are unsatisfactory, you should notify the pool manager," Jim Love, director of Environmental Health for DOH-Lee, said. "If readings remain unsatisfactory in public pools, contact us at 690-2100."
While disinfection violations are most common in kiddie and wading pools, DOH-Lee closed 17 percent of the pools it inspected last year for at least 24 hours due to an unsafe chemical balance.
"This is a great cost-free opportunity to ensure adults and children are safe from harmful bacteria while enjoying treated water parks and pools this summer," Love said. "Pool managers are only required to test the water on a daily basis. Bacteria may not be killed quickly if the pool chemistry changes when large numbers of patrons are using the facility."
Although Florida law requires daily testing, some managers test hourly during times when large numbers are swimming and splashing in the water.
Pools, water parks, splash and spray parks and wading pools are all at risk for bacterial contamination.
Patrons can benefit by ordering the test strips and using them before getting in the water.
Adults and children should follow these rules for healthy use of all recreational water:
- Do not go in the water when you have diarrhea.
- Shower with soap before getting in the water.
- Take bathroom breaks every 60 minutes.
- Change baby diapers every 30 minutes.
- Wash hands after using the toilet or changing diapers.
- Do not swallow the water in which you swim or play.
- Do not expose buttocks or mouths to water spouts or sprays.
For more information, go online to: leechd.com or healthypools.org.