There are few things more relaxing than getting out for a day on the water. From fishing at a nearby river, skiing on the lake, and swimming in your neighbor's pond, spending time on and in the water is a pastime like no other. Unfortunately, that water isn't always just fun and games. Lurking beneath the surface of your favorite pond, lake, and river are all sorts of frightening things that are waiting to get you. Should you be worried? Read on to find out.
In a body of water, there is a constant cycle of life and death taking place. While most dying plants and animals are consumed by fish, turtles, and other water creatures, some will rot for a long period, emitting all kinds of unpleasantness into the water. At the same time, all of the live animals are busy using the water as their personal bathroom. A few centuries ago, this ecologically sound grossness wasn't too dangerous. But as people have purposefully or accidentally put harmful substances in the water, that has all changed.
One of the most feared bacteria, E. coli is frequently found in waters used for recreation. Water parasites also live in some of your favorite water playgrounds (including chlorinated pools), and the dreadful bacteria botulism can be found in practically any body of water. And there are the very real manmade dangers of toxins produced by a number of factories that produce toxic chemicals that get released into the air or are even deposited in bodies of water.
Along with bacteria and toxins, large bodies of water may experience some turbulence. Regardless of how strong a swimmer you may be or how great a boat you're driving, water turbulence can put you at incredible risk for drowning.
The best way to keep unwanted pathogens and toxins in the water and out of your body is to stay out of polluted waters. Since it is virtually impossible to find any perfectly clean water, you may want a different option. If you can't keep out of the water, always keep your mouth and eyes closed when swimming. You should also avoid excessively warm water, as warmer water breeds more dangerous bacterium, such as botulism.
With regards to drowning safety, always wear an appropriate life vest. You should also be aware of dam release schedules so you'll know when the water is going to start getting more dangerous. Any time the waters are turbulent, do the smart thing and stay away.
So you've done everything necessary to stay safe in the water, but someone in your group has wound up with stomach pains, fever, or vomiting, and you're unsure what to do. Since the problem could be from any number of bacteria and toxins, the best first step is to seek medical attention as soon as possible. While the person with the troublesome symptoms probably won't suffer any long-term consequences, you're better off playing it safe.