Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Beach Monitoring Program helps keep your summer safe

Before you hit the beach for your summer vacation, you may want to have a look at the Louisiana Department of Health’s Beach Monitoring Program website to see if any advisories have been posted for your vacation destination.

The program tests the water at 24 beaches along the Louisiana coast to determine if those beaches meet quality standards set forth by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. All 24 beaches are along the state’s coast and are tested weekly. Those beaches include:
  • Constance Beach
  • Cypremont Point State Park
  • Elmer’s Island
  • Fontainebleau State Park
  • Grand Isle State Park (four sites)
  • Grand Isle Beach (three sites)
  • Gulf Breeze Beach
  • Holly Beach (six sites)
  • Lake Charles’ north and south beaches
  • Little Florida Beach
  • Long Beach
  • Martin Beach
  • Rutherford Beach

The program tests these waterways for bacteria from human or animal waste that could potentially cause disease, infections and/or rashes. Whenever these bacteria are above an acceptable level, a swim advisory is issued. Advisories are posted at the beach with a diamond-shaped sign and on the program’s website.

Contaminants can enter water in a number of ways. Sometimes, it is a case of sewage discharge. In other cases, it could be from large amounts of rainfall increasing runoff that enters waterways.

Swim safety

Swim advisories do not mean that the beach is closed, however. LDH recommends that anyone with a compromised immune system or open wounds not swim in the water, but the public can swim at their own risk.

If there is a swim advisory, there are a number of ways to reduce your chance of illness, including:
  • Avoid putting your head under the water if you choose to swim.
  • Do not get into the water if you have open cuts, sore or wounds. If you do choose to get into the water, ensure that you have waterproof bandages to cover any open cuts.
  • After swimming, shower with soap and water.
  • Avoid eating seafood caught from waters where there are visible chemicals, algae is present, and there is an advisory.
  • Pets should not be allowed to swim in or drink from waterways that are under advisory.
  • Avoid areas with visible algae. Algae can be blue, bright green, brown or red, and can have a strong odor like rotting plants.

If you feel ill after entering the water or swimming, contact your doctor immediately.

If you’d like to learn more about swim advisories, you can visit LDH’s Beach Monitoring Program website here or the U.S. EPA’s BEACH program here.

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