Stay Safe at the Beach

Stay Safe at the Beach

An epidemiological study by the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission revealed that swimming in water contaminated with urban runoff can cause illnesses such as earaches, sinus problems, diarrhea, fever and rashes. That’s because polluted storm water runoff almost always contains pathogenic microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses and protozoans.

Good Bugs vs. Bad Bugs

Microorganisms are essential to all forms of life. Billions of types of microorganisms serve as building blocks for ecosystems around the world. These helpful bugs are known as antigenic microorganisms and serve necessary functions in the food chain, such as helping humans digest food or aiding in the treatment of waste water.

The bad bugs, or pathogenic microorganisms, are the ones that cause problems and pose a public health risk, especially when they find their way into our local rivers, creeks, lakes and beaches. Fecal matter from humans, dogs and wildlife are the biggest contributors of pathogenic microorganisms in our environment.

Protect Yourself from the Bad Bugs

There are measures you can take to reduce your chances of becoming ill when swimming in the ocean. Children, the elderly and people with chronic illnesses should be extra careful.

Do not swim in the ocean for up to 72 hours after a rain storm.

  • Do not swim in the ocean for up to 72 hours after a rain storm.
  • Check the overall health of the beach you’re visiting by reading Heal the Bay’s Annual Beach Report Card before you leave for the shore.
  • Swim in areas with good water circulation rather than in protected inlets where stagnant water may contain higher levels of bacteria.
  • Do not swim within 400 feet of a flowing storm drain.