What you can do to help protect your health and that of other beach-goers:
At the Beach
- Do not swim or play in streams or ditches flowing into Lake Michigan (they contain run-off that is more likely to be contaminated).
- Do not feed the seagulls, geese, or other animals on the beach. The feces from these animals as well as from dogs can increase microorganisms on the beach and in the water. At beaches where dogs are allowed, it is critical to pick-up pet waste and dispose of properly.
- Place all litter in trash cans provided (or properly dispose of it after leaving the beach). Trash left out on the beach is unsightly, can be hazardous, and will attract animals.
- Take young children on bathroom breaks and check diapers often. Waiting to hear "I have to go" may mean that it's too late.
- Do not swim when you have diarrhea and don’t allow children in dirty diapers to swim. Micro-organisms can spread through the water and make other people sick.
- When going to the beach or for other outdoor activities, keep two items handy—a sunscreen lotion and a hand-sanitizing lotion (62% ethyl alcohol). Use an appropriate sun screen before going outside and use the hand-sanitizing lotion after swimming or playing in the sand. (Microorganisms are present in the water, sand, and soil.)
- Support the restoration of wetlands. Wetlands help to clean and protect Lake Michigan and can reduce the level of microorganisms. Healthy wetlands will lead to open beaches.
- Keep your septic system properly maintained.
- Reduce your water use, especially during heavy rain events, when local sewage treatment plants get overloaded. Postpone your laundry chores when it is raining.
- Pick up pet waste and dispose of it properly. Don't hose waste into storm drains. Pet waste contains microorganisms that can spread disease. Help keep your yard, neighborhood, and Lake Michigan, healthy and clean.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): http://www.cdc.gov/healthyswimming/
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Beachgoer's Guide
Human Health Impacts of Sewer Overflows: http://www.epa.gov/npdes/pubs/csossoRTC2004_chapter06.pdf
Swim Safe (Some Tips from the CDC) --
• Know the local weather conditions and forecast before swimming or boating. Strong winds and thunderstorms with lightning strikes are dangerous to swimmers and boaters.
• Watch for dangerous waves and signs of rip currents (e.g., water that is discolored and unusually choppy, foamy, or filled with debris). If you are caught in a rip current, swim parallel to the shore. Once out of the current, swim toward the shore.
• Make sure an adult is constantly watching children swimming or playing in or around the water. Do not read, play cards, talk on the phone, or engage in any other distracting activity while supervising children.
• Always swim with a buddy.