Water Park Illness Preventable But Few Take Precaution

Parents neglecting shower before pool rule that keeps water parks safe

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(RxWiki News) When arriving at a water park on a hot summer day such as July 4, a busy holiday weekend for such attractions, children are usually ready to immediately ride water slides. But parents might be forgetting to enforce an important rule.

A recent study shows that few parents enforce a rule requiring showering before entering the rides or pools at water parks, putting them at added risk of infection.

The University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health study also revealed that most parents do not understand the risks associated with pools and water parks and how showers can help safeguard health.

"Shower with soap before entering pools or water parks."

The best way to lower the risk of water illness, which sickens more than 10,000 each year, is to shower before playing at pools or water parks.

Researchers asked parents of elementary school age children about their perceptions of water park risks and their opinions about water park rules. Those asked included parents who had taken their children to water parks within the last year.

Of those surveyed, 64 percent said it was very important that children not swallow the water at a water park, but only 26 percent of parents think it is important to shower before entering the water. Researchers noted that the shower before entering rule posted at water parks is not meant to be optional.

Showering is considered a simple and effective way to reduce the spread of germs, including Cryptosporidium, which is not killed with conventional levels of chlorine.

Dr. Matthew Davis, M.D., director of the poll and associate professor in the Child Health Evaluation and Research Unit at the U-M Medical School, said that parents seem to understand the risk of contaminated water but most don't take the necessary preventive steps to keep everyone healthy.

In addition, only 65 percent of parents feel that preventing recreational water infections is a shared responsibility between parents and water park staff, while 28 percent of parents think that water park staff alone is responsible.

The study also revealed that parents perceive the risk of infections from water parks to be lower than the risk of drowning, when in fact, infections are far more common.

To prevent such infections,  wash thoroughly with soap and water (especially in the diaper region for young children) before swimming, take children on bathroom breaks or check diapers often, remind children not to swallow the water and to avoid getting water in the mouth, and avoid swimming when sick with diarrhea.

Last Updated:
July 2, 2011