Healthy Swimming & Recreational Water Safety

Before you or your family visit pools, waterparks, hot tubs/spas, splash pads and water playgrounds, be sure to know how to stay healthy and safe. Although swimming is a physical activity that offers numerous health benefits, pools and other recreational water venues are also places where germs can be spread and injuries can happen.

Recreational Water Illnesses

Recreational water illnesses (RWIs) are caused by germs spread by swallowing, breathing in mists or having contact with contaminated water in swimming pools, hot tubs/spas, water play areas, interactive fountains, lakes, rivers or oceans. Here are a few steps you can take to prevent RWIs:

  • Don't swim when you have diarrhea.
  • Shower with soap before you start swimming.
  • Take a rinse shower before you get back into the water.
  • Take bathroom breaks every 60 minutes.
  • Wash your hands after using the toilet or changing diapers.
  • Check the free chlorine level and pH before getting into the water.
  • Take children on bathroom breaks every 60 minutes or check diapers every 30–60 minutes.
  • Follow the steps of healthy swimming.

Recreational Water Injuries

The Health Department encourages people to learn about preventing recreational water injuries, such as drowning and slips, trips and falls, which can occur in or around the water.

Visit to learn simple steps to reduce childhood drownings and pool injuries.

More Information

Learn more about healthy swimming and recreational water topics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Get information about Healthy and Safe Swimming Week from the Virginia Department of Health and CDC.

Public and Community Pools

The Fairfax County Health Department inspects hundreds of public and community pool facilities annually and issues permits.

For pool owners, managers and operators:

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  • 10777 Main Street, Fairfax, VA 22030
  • Main Phone: 703-246-2444
  • Fax: 703-653-9448
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