News Release

Health Department of Northwest Michigan
serving Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego Counties
Visit us at www.nwhealth.org


Enjoy the water but be safe
The week before Memorial Day is National Recreational Water Illness Prevention Week


(May 19, 2009) The week before Memorial Day (May 18–24, 2009) has been designated as National Recreational Water Illness Prevention Week. The goal of this observance is to raise awareness about healthy swimming in lakes, rivers, pools, and spas.

In conjunction with National Recreational Water Illness Prevention Week, local public health officials remind residents and visitors that water testing results for 39 beaches in Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego counties will be available at www.nwhealth.org beginning late in June.

Three times per week, from late-June through early-September, Health Department staff assess public beach safety and collect lake water samples. Water samples are analyzed at the Northern Michigan Regional Laboratory, the Health Department’s water quality laboratory in Gaylord. Results are usually reported within twenty-four hours, which allows for rapid response to water quality problems.

“By conducting water quality testing on an ongoing basis, we can monitor the safety of local waters for recreational use by the public,” said Scott Kendzierski, Director of Environmental Health Services. “The first priority of our Beach Safety Program is protecting swimmers from preventable waterborne illness. We don’t like to close beaches, but sometimes it’s necessary. Fortunately, with our laboratory close by, we can get results quickly—usually overnight—and decide if the beach is safe for swimming again.”

In pools, contamination is usually caused by swimmers themselves. The best way to prevent recreational water illnesses is to keep germs out of the pool in the first place. Kendzierski says everyone can help create healthy swimming experiences this summer by following these six healthy swimming steps:

Pool chemicals can cause injuries if they are not properly handled. This type of preventable injury leads to thousands of emergency room visits each year. Public pool operators and residential pool and hot tub owners can protect themselves and swimmers by taking these key steps:

The Health Department of Northwest Michigan received grants from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) to monitor the beaches and lake waters.

The Health Department of Northwest Michigan is mandated by the Michigan Public Health Code to promote wellness, prevent disease, provide quality healthcare, address health problems of vulnerable populations, and protect the environment for the residents and visitors of Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego counties. For additional information about healthy swimming visit www.cdc.gov/healthyswimming.


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