Safe Swimming

girl swimming in a river with her dog

In 2023, the Georgia General Assembly passed Senate Bill 107, or Izzy's Law as it is more commonly known. Governor Kemp signed Izzy’s Law on May 3, 2023.

Izzy's Law requires the Department of Public Health to develop a safety plan for aquatic activities based on the standards for nationally accredited swim instructors. The Department of Public Health's Injury Prevention team, in collaboration with the YMCAs of Metro Atlanta and the United States Swim School Association, developed Georgia's Model Aquatic Safety Plan for Private Instructors, which is available for download below.

By April 1, 2024, all private swim instructors must have an aquatic safety plan in place before providing swimming lessons to any individual. Private swim instructors may use Georgia's Model Aquatic Safety Plan or develop their own plan. If a swim instructor chooses to build their own plan, the plan must include the required elements listed in Georgia's Model Aquatic Safety Plan.

Izzy's Law is named after Israel "Izzy" Scott, a 4-year-old who died as a result of a drowning accident during a backyard swim lesson in Burke County, Georgia, on June 14, 2022.

Download this pdf file. Georgia's Model Aquatic Safety Plan for Private Instructors

Swimming and other water-based activities are fun and healthy ways to be physically active. However, like any physical activity, there are potential risks involved. The Safe Swimming page provides information on how to have healthy and safe swimming experiences that maximize the benefits of swimming while minimizing the risk of illness and injury.

Steps for Healthy Swimming

We all share the water we swim in. That means each of us needs to do our part to help keep ourselves, our families, and our friends healthy. To help protect yourself and those you care about, here are a few easy and effective steps all swimmers can take each time we swim, play, or relax in the water.

  • Before you get in

    Pools, hot tubs, and water playgrounds with proper chlorine or bromine levels and pH are less likely to spread germs. Injuries and drownings are less likely when trained staff and adequate safety equipment are present.

    Before you or those you care about get in the water, do your own mini inspection:

    1. Check latest inspection results on state or local health department website or on-site.
    2. Make sure the drain at the bottom of the deep end is visible. Check that the drain covers appear to be secured and in good condition.
    3. Use test strips to make sure the water has a proper free chlorine (amount of chlorine available to kill germs) or bromine level and pH.
      1. Free chlorine level: at least 1 part per million (ppm) in pools and water playgrounds and at least 3 ppm in hot tubs.
      2. Bromine level: at least 3 ppm in pools and water playgrounds and at least 4 ppm in hot tubs.
      3. pH (affects how effectively germs are killed or inactivated): 7.2–7.8.
      4. Most superstores, hardware stores, and pool supply stores sell test strips. Follow the manufacturer’s directions to ensure proper usage.
    4. Check for lifeguard(s)
      1. If on duty, the lifeguard(s) should be focused on swimmers and not distracted.
      2. If no lifeguard is on duty, find the location of the safety equipment, such as a rescue ring or pole.
    5. Make sure no chemicals are out in the open.


  • Check yourself
    1. Stay out of the water if you are sick with diarrhea. If you have been diagnosed with Crypto, don’t go back in the water until 2 weeks after diarrhea has completely stopped.
    2. Stay out of the water if you have an open cut or wound (particularly from a surgery or piercing). If you do go in the water, use waterproof bandages to completely cover the cut or wound.
    3. Shower before you get in the water. Rinsing off in the shower for just 1 minute removes most of the dirt or anything else on your body that uses up chlorine or bromine needed to kill or inactivate germs.
  • Once you are in
    1. Don’t pee or poop in the water.
    2. Don’t swallow the water.
    3. Use well-fitting, Coast Guard-approved life jackets, not air-filled toys (for example, water wings), for flotation assistance.
    4. Keep an eye on children at all times. Kids can drown in seconds and in silence.
    5. Take kids on bathroom breaks and check diapers every hour.
      1. Change diapers away from the water to keep germs from getting in.
    6. Dry ears thoroughly after swimming.

Drowning, Injury, and Sun Protection

Before going to the beach, visiting the pool, launching your boat, or heading out into the sun, it’s important to understand how to avoid injuries and protect yourself from the sun. The resources listed on this page will help you learn how to protect yourself and your family from these public health issues.

Visiting Oceans, Lakes, and Rivers

Naegleria fowleri, a rare infection that destroys brain tissue, occurs naturally in freshwater bodies, such as lakes, rivers, and hot springs.

Spending time in natural bodies of water—like oceans, lakes, and rivers—is a great way to enjoy the outdoors with family and friends. While this can help you stay active, it is important to know that the water we swim, play, wade, and relax in can also spread germs and make you, and those you care about, sick.

Germs found in the water and sand (swim area) often come from human or animal feces (poop). One way germs can be carried into swim areas is by heavy rain. Water from heavy rain picks up anything it comes in contact with (for example, poop from where animals live) and can drain into swim areas. These germs can also come from humans or animals pooping in or near the water. 

Water contaminated with these germs can make you sick if you swallow it. It can also cause an infection if you get into the water with an open cut or wound (especially from a surgery or piercing).

Taking a few simple steps when you visit oceans, lakes, rivers, and other natural bodies of water can help protect everyone from these germs.

  • Know before you go
    • Before you head out, check online to find out if the swim area is currently monitored, is under advisory, or has been closed for health or safety reasons. This is especially important after a heavy rain.
    • If your body’s ability to fight germs is already affected by other health problems or medicines, check with your healthcare provider before swimming in oceans, lakes, rivers, and other natural bodies of water.
  • Stay out of the water if
    • Signs say the swim area is closed.
      • This may be due to high levels of germs in the water which make it unsafe for swimming.
    • The water looks cloudier than usual, is discolored, or smells bad. Cloudy water can be a warning that there are more germs in the water than normal. Discolored or smelly water could mean there is a harmful algal bloom (HAB) in the water.
      • Heavy rain picks up anything it comes in contact with (for example, human and animal poop). This rainwater can drain into the swim area, making the water cloudier.
      • Harmful algal blooms in the water can make humans and animals sick.
    • You see any pipes draining into or around the water.
      • Water in pipes can pick up animal or human poop and bring germs into the swim area, especially after heavy rains or rainfalls after long periods of drought.
    • You are sick with diarrhea.
      • Germs in diarrhea can get in the water and make other swimmers sick if they swallow the contaminated water.
    • You have an open cut or wound (especially from a surgery or piercing). If you do go in the water while a cut or wound is still healing, use waterproof bandages to completely cover
      • Germs in the water can get into open cuts or wounds and cause infections.
  • Once you are in the swim area
    • Don’t swallow the water.
      • Water can contain germs that can make you sick if swallowed.
    • Keep sand away from your mouth and children’s mouths.
      • Sand can contain germs that can make you sick if swallowed.
    • Don’t poop in the water.
      • Germs in your poop can make others sick.
    • Every hour—everyone OUT—to keep poop and pee out of the water.
      • Take kids on bathroom breaks.
      • Check diapers. If needed, change them in a bathroom or diaper-changing area to keep germs away from the water and sand.
    • Wash your hands for 20 seconds before eating food, especially if you have been playing in or touching sand.
      • If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Hand sanitizer might not be as effective when hands are visibly dirty or greasy, so wiping sand off before using it might be helpful.

Addtional Resources

  1. SPLASH! / Wear it! - Anti-drowning & Safe Boating Campaigns (Georgia Department of Natural resources)
  2. Water Safety Digital Toolkit (Children's Healthcare of Atlanta)
  3. Healthy Swimming (CDC)
  4. Download this pdf file. Georgia's Model Aquatic Safety Plan for Private Instructors


Page updated 1/2/24