When Benalla Rural City Council’s public health coordinator Callum Morrison was trying to work out how to promote a new range of educational materials for the Water Unit of the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services, he got help from an unlikely place.
He approached Australia’s premier toilet-based actor Shane Jacobson to help deliver his ‘‘No stool in the pool message’’ and he was happy to help.
The public health message is aimed at keeping poo out of public and private swimming pools.
‘‘It is not an easy topic to raise and then I heard the popular actor Shane Jacobson, who starred as Kenny in the film of the same name was visiting Benalla — and the penny dropped,’’ Mr Morrison said.
‘‘Kenny was the best possible endorsement for us.’’
Mr Morrison said germs, such as bacteria, viruses and parasites can be brought into pools by swimmers.
‘‘One gram of poo can contain as many germs as there are people on planet Earth,’’ he said.
‘‘An infective dose can be fewer than 10 germs.
‘‘Chlorine is able to kill most germs, but it doesn’t happen straight away.
‘‘Some germs, such as Cryptosporidium, can live in pool water for days.’’
Mr Morrison said there were some simple steps swimmers could follow to help keep pools clean and free of germs.
‘‘You share the pool water with everyone, so practising good hygiene before going swimming can prevent germs from contaminating the pool water,’’ he said.
Mr Morrison said the five simple steps to healthy swimming were to shower with soap and water before you swim, avoid swallowing pool water, don’t swim if you have diarrhoea, change kids’ nappies in nappy change areas only and make sure you wash your hands after changing a nappy.
‘‘The messages are simple, but sadly one infected person can easily cause a cascading outbreak of illness and it can ruin a holiday and be really messy and expensive to clean up,’’ Mr Morrison said.
The good news? This is all preventable.
The Department of Health and Human Services has prepared free posters, stickers, colouring sheets, animation videos and more to remind kids and adults about the steps to healthy swimming.
Mr Morrison said there were more than 600 backyard pools in Benalla and residents and pool operators could put these signs up to help educate everyone and protect water quality in pools.
●The resources are available for download and hard copy orders at the Department of Health and Human Services web page www2.health.vic.gov.au/public-health/water/aquatic-facilities/healthy-swimming
●For more information, contact the Department of Health and Human Services Water Unit by emailing [email protected] or phone 1300761874.