BATON ROUGE, LA (WVUE) - Summertime weather means a lot of people will try to cool off in a pool or lake. The state health department wants to remind everyone to take precautions to make sure everyone is safe while outdoors.
"There are a number of beautiful options for us to enjoy the water during the summer months," said DHH Secretary Kathy H. Kliebert. "We don't want to discourage anyone from swimming, but we do want to make sure everyone is careful and takes the proper precautions."
To reduce the risk of microorganisms, in-ground pools should be properly chlorinated, treated and maintained. Residents who use blow-up pools or water-based yard toys are reminded to use fresh water each day.
Louisiana's natural waterways could have germs, bacteria and parasites that could make you sick, or in rare cases could case fatal illnesses. A state health officer says you should check yourself and those you're supervising for any open wounds before getting in rivers, lakes, marshes or the Gulf of Mexico.
The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals says drowning is the leading cause of injury death in America for children between the ages of 1 and 14, as well as the fifth leading cause of unintended injury death for people of all ages.
DHH offers the following tips:
• Never swim alone and always have adult supervision when people are in or around water. This is especially important for children and people who have seizure disorders or other medical conditions that could cause them to lose consciousness.
• Avoid swimming with an open cut or wound, and be sure to shower or bathe immediately after swimming in a public waterway.
• Make sure everyone who plans to swim has taken swimming lessons and knows how to swim.
• Learn CPR.
• Do not use air-filled or foam toys in place of life jackets.
• Use alcohol responsibly around water and avoid its use entirely when supervising children.
• Minimize dunking your head under water while swimming and avoid ingesting or swallowing the water.
Swimming in Pools:
• Teach children to never run, push or jump on others around water.
• Keep a phone near the pool or other body of water, along with rescue equipment such as a life preserver and a shepherd's hook -- a long pole with a hook at the end swimmers can grab to be pulled out of the water if in distress.
• Ensure that pools are surrounded by a fence at least four feet high. Pool gates should self-close and self-latch at a height small children cannot reach.
Swimming in Bodies of Water:
• Never dive into water unless you are 100 percent certain it is deep enough and clear of any debris. Shallow water, underwater logs, big rocks or other debris are all dangerous when you are diving into the Gulf, rivers, lakes or swimming holes. Diving head first can cause serious injury.
• Avoid swimming after heavy rains, near a drainage pipe, in a ditch, near runoff areas, in littered areas or in other areas that have posted warnings against swimming there.
• When going to the beach, make sure the water is safe by contacting the local government or beach monitoring agency and checking for signage.