The COVID-19 pandemic has delayed the opening of public pools and as a result, many residents may seek relief from the summer weather and recreation in naturally occurring waters, such as the Potomac River and area creeks and lakes. Loudoun County officials urge residents to use caution while swimming in naturally occurring waterways, human-made bodies of water and private pools as they can pose a variety of health and safety risks, especially to children.
“With pools still closed after Memorial Day, a time when residents would normally already be enjoying them, more children are swimming in local waterways,” noted Loudoun County Health Director Dr. David Goodfriend. “The Health Department wants to remind parents to monitor children who may go into Loudoun’s creeks, ponds and other nearby waters and to encourage all families to take the necessary precautions around water this summer.”
Many communities in Loudoun County strictly prohibit swimming in ponds. Residents should observe all posted signs and follow the directions on the signs.
“If you live near a waterway, we ask that you remain watchful for children attempting to venture into the water to swim,” said Loudoun County Sheriff Mike Chapman. “These waters can be treacherous.”
In addition, parents and anyone swimming in natural waters should be aware of recreational water illnesses, which are caused by germs and chemicals found in the water. Natural waters can be susceptible to pollution that can cause health risks to people. Bacteria and algae can be dangerous and cause illness in people and pets.
To help prevent illness:
“Bodies of water such as lakes, rivers and ponds have many hidden dangers, such as underwater debris, sudden drop-offs, vegetation and unpredictable currents,” said Loudoun County Combined Fire and Rescue System Chief Keith H. Johnson. “Before you get in the water, survey the area and be aware of the potential dangers.”
It is also important to be aware of local weather conditions prior to recreational activities in the water. Residents should use extra caution following heavy rainfall because additional debris may be in the water and the strength of currents may increase. To help prevent injury or drowning:
The Virginia Department of Health and Loudoun County also remind the owners of private pools to take measures to ensure safe swimming for all who may use them. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends:
The CDC also recommends that you take steps to protect yourself from the sun during all outdoor activity, including putting on broad spectrum sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher before going outside.
Loudoun County encourages residents to stay informed about COVID-19.
Residents with questions about COVID-19 may call the Loudoun County Health Department’s information line, 703-737-8300, or send an email.
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