Healthy Swimming at the Beach and Lake
To minimize the risk of illness:
- Don’t swallow the water.
- Shower before and after swimming.
- Dry your ears thoroughly after swimming.
- Avoid swimming after a rain event. Rain can wash contaminants from on land, like sewage overflows or animal feces, into the water.
- Avoid swimming if you see a blue-green algal bloom.
To help keep the water healthy for everyone:
- Stay out of the water if you have diarrhea.
- Shower before swimming.
- Take children on frequent bathroom breaks when swimming – waiting to hear “I have to go” may mean that it’s already too late!
- Change diapers frequently and away from the water. Wash your hands and the child’s hands after changing diapers.
- Dispose of trash, animal waste, and boat waste properly.
- Maintain septic systems.
- Don’t encourage water fowl by feeding ducks, geese, seagulls, or other birds.
Beach goers should also be aware of Naegleria fowleri, an amoeba commonly found in soil and warm freshwater. It causes a very rare but nearly always fatal brain infection. The organism infects people by entering the body through the nose. Generally, this occurs when people use warm freshwater for activities such as swimming and diving.
To reduce your risk from Naegleria you can:
- Avoid warm freshwater when the water temperature is high and the water level is low.
- Avoid putting your head under water.
- Hold your nose shut or use nose clips.
- Avoid digging or stirring up the sediment in shallow, warm freshwater areas.