Summer is in full swing, and for many of us, it means trips to the public swimming pool, floating the river and visiting water parks. Regardless where you go, it’s important to practice safe swimming behaviors to ensure a healthy experience for everyone.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, recreational water illnesses are caused by germs spread by swallowing, breathing in mists or aerosols of, or having contact with contaminated water in swimming pools, hot tubs, water parks, water play areas, interactive fountains, lakes, rivers or oceans.

“Swimmers should keep in mind that swimming pools are not filled with drinking water, and thus it is not as safe as tap water,” says Lacy Daniels, Ph.D., professor and interim chair of pharmaceutical sciences at the Texas A&M Health Science Center Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy.

Community pools should be properly filtered, and the water should be disinfected and maintained. “It is safe practice to swim only in pools where cleanliness rules are enforced,” Dr. Daniels says.

Common rules for preventing recreational water illnesses are to not swim when you have diarrhea, avoid swallowing the pool water and practicing good hygiene.

“It is important for both children and adults to take a shower before entering a pool and to avoid water recreation when sick,” Dr. Daniels says.

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