As you cram your family, beach chairs, towels, beach umbrella, and cooler into the car for a summer getaway, the last thing you’re likely to be thinking about are dangerous skin infections, questionable sunscreen chemicals, and E. coli bacteria. But to make sure your family doesn’t get too sick to swim, do some homework before planning your trip, use our simple beach safety tips, and keep ocean conservation in mind even at home to improve the health of the oceans we love to swim in.
Here are 6 beach dangers you need to consider:
Rain is often the carrier of beach water pollution. That’s because during heavy downpours, sewage systems are often overwhelmed, and raw sewage spews right into coastal waters before going through water-treatment plants. This type of pollution, which can carry E. coli and other microbes, can lead to nasty stomach illnesses. According to a Natural Resources Defense Council analysis, sewage spills and overflows accounted for more than 4,000 beach closures and advisory days in 2007.
What to do:
Find a beach that tests its waters regularly and has a good track record by calling that beach’s county health department. Those that use the rapid test created by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency can detect pollution more quickly, which reduces a swimmer’s risk of being exposed. If you’re already at the beach, avoid swimming in the ocean 24 hours after a heavy rain. On a more proactive level, you can help keep fecal waste out of waterways by making sure you always pick up pet waste (whether you’re near a beach or not) and keeping septic systems you use in good working order.