BEACH Program

Swimming Tips to Minimize Risk

Avoid Swimming-related Illness

Anyone who uses nearshore waters for recreational purposes such as swimming, scuba diving, surfing, or kayaking can be exposed to illness associated with water contaminated by sewage. The most common of these illnesses is gastroenteritis, which can have one or more of the following symptoms: nausea, vomiting, stomachache, diarrhea, headache, or fever. Children, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems are most susceptible to becoming ill.

View Current Swimming Advisories to learn if your beach is known to have problems. However, no beach is sampled daily, so it is important to use caution, even when a beach is open.

Sand can harbor contaminants

During a beach closure, water contact is off-limits, but sand contact is not. Bacteria that cause illness can last longer in sand than in water. This can put children at risk if they put contaminated sand in their mouths.

Protect yourself and your family

First, do not swim at any public beach if you are already sick or if you have a weakened immune system. Also, avoid swimming for 24 hours after a heavy rainfall or anywhere you can see discharge pipes. Finally, a few hygiene tips may help you minimize your exposure:

  • If possible, keep your face and head out of the water, or wear ear plugs and goggles.
  • Don’t swallow beach water.
  • Shower after swimming or recreating at a beach.
  • Wash your hands before eating, especially if you’ve been playing in the sand.

If you get sick

If you believe that you are sick from swimming in contaminated waters, see your physician immediately, and contact us to tell us what beach may have caused your illness.