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Beach Safety FAQs

1. How do I know when it is safe to swim at the beach?

When the bacteria and/or cyanotoxin sample results are above the threshold, the beach operator erects advisory signs to alert you to the potentially hazardous conditions. These results can be found on the BeachGuard webpage where you can also sign up to receive an alert when there is a change in the advisory status.

2. I saw an advisory sign at my beach. What does it mean?

There are two types of advisory signs that could be posted at the beach. One type of advisory is for bacterial contamination and the other is for cyanotoxins. The sign means that the water sample result is currently higher than the threshold that is used for evaluating beaches. If you are already sick, or if your immune system is weakened, your risk of becoming ill is greater if you swim when these advisories are in place.

3. What kinds of illnesses could I get from swimming in contaminated water?

The most common illness associated with swimming in polluted water is gastroenteritis with the following symptoms: nausea, vomiting, headache, stomachache, fever and diarrhea. Other illnesses associated with swimming include eye, ear, nose, and throat infections. Cyanotoxin exposure could result in skin rashes and may impact neurological and liver function.

4. If I get sick after swimming, what should I do?

If you become sick after swimming at the beach, you should consult your doctor. You should also tell the beach operator or your local health district. That way, the water can be tested again and the beach area can be assessed for potential contamination sources.

5. How can I get information about a beach before I go?

You can call the beach operator to learn about current beach conditions. Beach details can also be found on the BeachGuard webpage.