By Russell Sellers, Army Flier StaffJune 16, 2011
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- As the heat of summer rolls on, swimming increases in popularity among Fort Rucker residents, but safety should never be out of mind.
Jon Cole, Fort Rucker aquatics manager, said being safe should be the top concern for those enjoying time on or in the water this season.
Parents who bring their children to Splash! Pool or to West Beach should always be aware of what their kids are doing and that they’re not having trouble swimming, he said. Having a lifejacket is also a good idea for swimmers at West Beach.
“We have signs posted up to let parents know that if their child can’t stand up in the water or is not a good swimmer, they must be within arms’ reach at all times,” he said. “Swimming at the lake is different from the pools, though. You can’t see more than a foot into the water at the lake.”
Cole added that the environment at West Beach is also different from the kind found at most pools.
“At the lake, you could be walking along in the water just fine and then there could be a sudden drop-off or the sand could sink right under you,” he said. “Those are the types of things people should be watchful for if they’re going to be out swimming at West Beach. There could also be underwater debris like sticks or sharp rocks that wash up during the night. We clear it out frequently, but there could be things that wash in at any time.”
Cole said the swimming area at West Beach is enclosed, so the waves swimmers encounter would be comparable to those found at a public pool.
Lindsey Williams, Fort Rucker pool operator, said using sunscreen and making sure to take breaks while swimming to avoid exhaustion are things every swimmer, regardless of age, should remember.
“If we see somebody who’s really sunburned, we’ll say something to them about putting on sunscreen or just getting out of the sun,” she said. “They need to do everything they can to avoid that kind of injury and sunscreen is a good way to start.”
Those choosing to swim in any facility should also watch for any wildlife that might be attracted to the water as well, Cole added.
“This is south Alabama during a particularly hot summer, so there are snakes out during this time of year,” he said. “They’re more likely to be seen out at the lake, but that doesn’t mean one couldn’t wander into the pool area. If there were to be one, we would call animal control to come out and take care of it.”
Cole added that precautions are taken at all Fort Rucker pools to prevent the possible spread of disease.
“We do have chlorine in all our pools,” he said. “There are some recreational water illnesses that are immune to chlorine, such as cryptosporidium, that can live up to a week in chlorinated water. It can be deadly to those with compromised immune systems like the very young or the elderly.”
Cole said the disease lives in soft stool or diarrhea. He said that those with children who have been sick recently or have been sick themselves, should not go to the pool or the spray park because it could spread the disease.
Cole said that, according to the Center for Disease Control, swim diapers are not going to stop the spread of disease. The diapers don’t dissolve in water, but they don’t keep the disease from spreading.
“We also try to enforce showering as best we can,” Williams added. “It’s difficult because of the high traffic flow, but people need to take that responsibility and shower before and after getting out of the pool.”