Avoiding contamination at area beaches

beach closed
Public Health has another way for you to see if a beach you'd like to visit is closed.

They post updated beach reports -- when the beach was last tested, whether you need to keep an eye out for algae, and if it's closed, why.

They post the Madison and Dane County Beaches Reports here: www.publichealthmdc.com/environmental/water/beaches

Area beaches have been busy with this week's warm weather, but some of these beaches contain bacteria and algae that are potentially harmful to your health.

There's a few things you can do to help keep beaches open. Kirsti Sorsa from Madison and Dane County Public Health says to shower kids before and after the beach. She says to wash your hands if you're eating at the beach. Sorsa also says parents should take children to the bathroom before heading in the water, to avoid any accidents that could close the beach.

For those who went to Vilas Beach Friday, the water sheened a shade of aqua blue that may have been mistakable as the ocean.

"You're gonna squirt Grandpa?" said Jan Morris to her grandson.

They spent part of their day at the beach, but the water may not have looked as clear earlier this week. It was closed for multiple days due to Blue-Green Algae and bacteria.

"I usually check for signs for Swimmer's Itch, stuff like that, but we always shower off after a lake swim," Karla Krumenauer, a nanny of three.

Krumenauer has the right idea according to Sorsa's recommendationa. Common sense is what's best when it comes to area beaches.

"Visible algae blooms, some streaks, or discolored water, a kind of surface scum -- they should avoid that," said Sorsa.

Madison and Dane County Public Health tests area beaches each week, sometimes each day. They close them if there's a health risk, and open them when levels decline.

"We try to, again, inform people if there is a problem of potential bacterial contamination," said Sorsa.

Sorsa says the message doesn't always get out.

"We sometimes see people, and we hear reports of people being in the water when the beach is closed," said Sorsa.

Public Health always posts signs on the beach if it's closed. Sorsa says some beachgoers have had a hard time seeing them.

"Often times we have signs near or by the lifeguard stand," said Sorsa.

She says there's a few easy ways to tell if the beach is closed -- even if you don't see the signs. If the bathrooms are locked and there's no lifeguard on the stand it's a good indication the beach is closed.

"That tells you already that beach is closed," said Sorsa.


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