Tips for Staying Safe at the Beach

Excerpted from Healthy Beaches (

For recent beach closings and information on how to find out if your favorite swimming spot is currently home to unsafe levels of bacteria, see the EPA’s Beach Advisory and Closing on-line Notification (BEACON) site and Earth911’s Beach Water Quality pages. Beaches that aren’t listed may not be monitored regularly.

* Swallowing water is the most frequent way swimmers are exposed to bacteria, so keep your head above the waves.

* Avoid swimming near flowing stormdrain outlets, outfalls or runoff ditches. A study of Santa Monica beaches found that swimmers near stormdrains had a 57 percent greater chance of fever than those swimming over 400 yards away.

* Don’t swim alone and don’t dive into water you haven’t been in previously.

* Don’t swim after a heavy rain or near trash.

* Keep an eye on the waves-don’t be caught unawares by large ones.

* Shower after visiting the beach.

* Disinfect cuts or abrasions to avoid infection.

* Those with suppressed immune systems should be checked for cuts both before and after swimming.

To help preserve the health of our beaches:

* Some chemical preservatives and stabilizers in sunscreens can damage coral reefs. For reef-safe lotions, see our Sunscreen Buying Guide.

* To protect your beach, contact the Surfrider Foundation (

* Since the stormwater runoff accounted for the majority of closures, support measures to reduce runoff in your community.