Q&A on Record Sealing

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With Labor Day quickly approaching, many families will enjoy one last poolside outing before summer ends. Unfortunately for nervous swimmers, while the iconic music from the 1975 film Jaws can be unnerving, giant human-eating sharks aren’t the only things to worry about when heading out for a dip.

In the past couple of years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have identified two public health and safety concerns with swimming pools:

   - Chemical safety and related harm from chemicals used in maintaining pools
   - Outbreaks of illness (e.g. diarrhea) due to different germs that may be present in water.

Pool Chemicals:

Chemicals are added to pool water (e.g., chlorine or bromine) to kill disease-causing germs, maximize the efficacy of the disinfection process (e.g., pH control), improve water quality, stop corrosion and scaling of equipment, and prevent the growth of algae. However, pool chemicals can also lead to injury when mixed improperly or when appropriate personal protective equipment is not used during handling.

Injuries due to pool related-chemicals are not uncommon. In the first six months of 2017—which doesn’t even count the height of summer—the IPC managed 70 cases related to pool chemicals, the vast majority from inhalational issues causing coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath, or from ocular exposures with potential chemical burns.

The CDC has the following recommendations for pool chemical safety:

Educate Yourself about Pool Chemical Safety

   - Complete appropriate training or education for use of chemicals
   - Read the entire product label or Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) on the product, and know what it is for, how to use it safely and hazardous effects

Store Pool Chemicals Safely

   - Secure chemicals away from children and pets
   - Store chemicals as recommended by manufacturers
   - Protect stored chemicals from mixing or getting wet
   - Respond to pool chemical spills immediately
   - Keep chemicals in their original containers

Use Pool Chemicals Safely

   - Use appropriate safety gear such as gloves, safety goggles or glasses and a mask
   - Handle chemicals in well-ventilated areas
   - Open one product container at a time, and close it before opening another container
   - Minimize dust, fumes and splashes of chemicals
   - Measure carefully
   - Never mix chlorine products with acids, as this can create toxic chlorine gas (a war agent used in trench warfare during World War I)
   - Never mix together different pool chemicals or any other substance

Recreational Water Illness (RWI): Infectious Disease:

Besides pool chemical injury, incidents of infectious diarrhea from pool water may be increasing. Swimming-related outbreaks are reported to CDC and are usually caused by diarrheal germs like Crypto (short for Cryptosporidium), Giardia, Shigella, norovirus, and E. coli O157:H7. Crypto outbreaks linked to swimming are increasing and are particularly hard to control because the germ is not easily killed by chlorine.

The CDC recommends that those with diarrhea refrain from swimming. Just one diarrheal incident in the water can release millions of germs. If someone swallows a mouthful of this water, it can cause diarrhea that lasts up to three weeks.

When heading to the pool this summer, several simple steps can protect you, your family and friends from germs that cause diarrhea:

   - Don’t let children swim when they have diarrhea
   - Don’t swallow the water
   - Shower before you get in the water, since rinsing off in the shower for just one minute helps get rid of any germs that may be on your body
   - Take kids on frequent bathroom breaks
   - Check diapers, and change them in a bathroom or diaper-changing area–not poolside–to keep germs away from the pool

Mercy Home for Boys & Girls has served kids in crisis in Chicago since 1887. Their mission is to save young lives by: promoting a safe, nurturing residential treatment home; AfterCare support for former residents and their families; community-based and site-based youth mentoring; promoting therapeutic, educational, vocational, spiritual and life skill development; and raising public awareness of youth in need.
Mercy Home has a Residential Care Program at the Hay Boys Campus in the West Loop. There is also a campus on the south side, the Walsh Girls Campus in Beverly, where we welcome at-risk youth from neighborhoods across Chicago. Mercy Home also provides mentoring for youth who may not need the level of care provided in a residential setting. And, while they have a dedicated core of volunteers who devote themselves as mentors, they need more!

Here’s how the program works:
Friends First is a one-on-one mentoring program for youth ages 9-17 in the Chicago area. Our mentors give of their time (8-10 hours per month) and take our young people to places like ball games, museums, parks and more. Many of these young people may never have ventured outside of their own neighborhood prior to their involvement with Friends First.

Friends First screens and trains adult volunteers who wish to mentor a child. We provide ongoing support, supervision, and encouragement to matches. Our match support staff helps to foster significant and life-changing friendships.

To learn more, or to refer a youth to Friends First for mentoring, please call Katie Gunter, Mercy Home's Matching Coordinator, at (312) 738-6368.

In addition, they have regular opportunities for individuals to join Mercy Home on staff. Please visit www.mercyhome.org/working-mercy-home for the latest job postings.


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