The majority of the public fails to shower before entering the
water at a commercial aquatics facility, suggests widely reported
While 64 percent of parents recognized the importance of not
swallowing pool water, only 26 percent think it is very important
to shower before entering the water, data from the University of
Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital Poll on
Children’s Health indicates. Also, 28 percent believe
preventing recreational water illnesses is the responsibility of
facility staff. The findings made headlines on national cable
networks, including CNN, morning talk shows, and local news.
“Whenever [such] studies can garner media attention,
that’s an opportunity to get healthy swimming messages out to
the public,” said Michele Hlavsa, chief of the Centers for
Disease Control Healthy Swimming Program. But “the results of
this survey indicate we’ve got a long way to go and suggests
... parents aren’t understanding their role.”
RWIs affect about 10,000 individuals annually, and “although
there’s been an increase in illnesses, we haven’t
really had a good understanding of why,” said lead researcher
Matthew Davis, M.D., associate professor in the Child Health
Evaluation and Research Unit at U-M Medical School, and associate
professor of public policy at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public
Policy. The survey results suggest “there’s something
everyone can do now to help keep public pools and waterparks
Davis and his team survey parents annually and came up with this
research topic through public input, a review of various
publications (including CDC reports), and professional involvement
in the community.
“One of the things we noticed is that there’s always
‘please shower’ signs ... but many times people walk
right past,” Davis said.
Survey participants were asked about their waterpark attendance,
but Davis believes the data can be extrapolated to all aquatic
venues. “Even though we didn’t ask about public pools,
I think families behave pretty similarly when it comes to showering
or not,” he said.
Operators can help raise awareness by getting creative. Davis says
he’s seen messaging on the floor, and Hlavsa suggests
providing information on birthday party rental contracts, ticket
stubs and the like. Operators also can establish consequences,such
as fines for parents whose kids have accidents in the pool.
Data for the survey was collected via a phone survey by Knowledge
Network Inc., a nationwide research firm. Respondents are a
representative cross-section of the nation.