For Immediate Release
Jamie DeMent, Epidemiologist
TOPEKA, Kan. - The week before Memorial Day (May 21-27) is Recreational Water Illness and Injury (RWII) Prevention Week. The goal of this observance is to raise awareness about healthy and safe swimming, including ways to prevent recreational water illnesses and injuries.
Every year, thousands of Americans get sick with recreational water illnesses (RWIs), which are caused by germs, chemicals, or harmful algal blooms found in places where we swim. Nationally, every day, two children under the age of 14 years die from drowning; it is the leading cause of injury death for children 1–4 years old. In Kansas, from 2006-2010, 150 deaths were reported due to drowning and 37 of these deaths occurred in children under the age of 15. Healthy and safe swimming means preventing the spread of the germs that cause RWIs and keeping children safe from drowning.
Drowning is preventable, although each year thousands die and more are left with long-term effects including memory problems, learning disabilities, and permanent loss of basic functioning (e.g., permanent vegetative state). To reduce the risk of drowning:
For more information about drowning prevention, visit www.cdc.gov/HomeandRecreationalSafety/Water-Safety/index.html
RWIs are also preventable, but prevention requires swimmers to take an active role in protecting themselves and other swimmers. Research shows that health education campaigns are likely an effective way to increase swimmer awareness and encourage healthy swimming behaviors. Simple steps swimmers can take to help prevent the spread of germs that cause RWIs include:
For more information about healthy swimming, visit www.cdc.gov/healthyswimming/