Beach Safety

Swimmers Itch

Swimmers’ itch is a natural phenomenon that occurs in many water bodies. It
is a temporary annoying but non-dangerous skin irritation caused by an
invisible parasite found in lakes and ponds. The skin irritation appears as
small itchy welts resembling a rash or mosquito bites.
The welts are caused by a tiny parasitic organism which normally lives in the
blood of waterfowl. The parasite’s eggs are passed out of the bird and develop
into larvae that seek out snails. Once they mature, they enter the water again
to seek out birds, but sometimes select a human by mistake. Humans are not
suitable hosts for the parasite, so it dies and is dissolved. Our body reacts to
the intrusion by treating the organism as a mild allergy and produces
histamines that can cause a red itchy welt. These itchy bumps are no more
serious than an insect bite and can be treated with anti-itch creams.
Incidences of swimmer’s itch are most common in late June and mid-July,
especially after heavy winds. Only 30% to 40% of the population is sensitive
to swimmer’s itch, and very few of those will ever develop welts.
Since swimmer’s itch can be reintroduced to the water through duck, shore
bird and goose droppings. Please do not feed or attract these birds while
near lakes or ponds.
Swimmer’s itch is:
• Not caused by poor water quality
• Not contagious
• Not dangerous to humans
To reduce the chance of getting swimmer’s itch:
• Apply waterproof sunscreen or baby oil to help prevent swimmer’s itch
organisms from entering the skin.
• Thoroughly and briskly towel-off or shower as soon as you leave the water to
help prevent swimmer’s itch organisms from entering the skin.
• Change out of your wet bathing suit as soon as possible after exiting the
water.
• Keep anti-itch creams handy if your family is prone to allergies or if welts
occur.

Beach Safety – Thunder & Lightning

Few people realize one of the most dangerous times for a fatal lightening strike is before
a storm arrives. Lightning can strike up to 20 miles away from the rain area of a
thunderstorm. Lightning can travel sideways for up to 10 miles. Even when the sky looks
blue and clear, be cautious. If you hear thunder, take cover. Lifeguards will clear and
close all swimming and beach areas well before a storm arrives. Out of the water for 30
minutes from the last sound of Thunder & off the beach for 30 minutes from the last sight
of Lightning. Another time for potential lightening danger is at the end of a
thunderstorm. This is the reason a beach, once closed, will not re-open immediately after
a storm has passed. The safest place to be if you are at the beach during a thunderstorm is
in your car. Going under an open-sided shelter or beach pavilion will not guarantee your
safety. If you can hear thunder you are in danger, lightning could strike your location at
any moment.
If Outdoors:
• Get out of the water. It’s a great conductor of electricity. Stay off
the beach and out of small boats or canoes. If caught in a boat, crouch down in the
center of the boat away from metal hardware. Swimming, wading, snorkeling and
scuba diving are NOT safe. Lightning can strike the water and travel some
distance beneath and away from its point of contact. Don’t stand in puddles of
water, even if wearing rubber boots.
• Attempt to get into a building or a car.
• If no structure is available, get to an open space and squat low to the ground as
quickly as possible. (If in the woods, find an area protected by low clump of trees
– never stand underneath a single large tree in the open.) Be aware of the potential
for flooding in low-lying areas.
• Avoid leaning against vehicles. Get off bicycles and motorcycles.
• Move away from a group of people. Stay several yards away from other people.
Don’t share a bleacher bench or huddle in a group. Crouch with hands on knees.
• Avoid tall structures such as towers, tall trees, fences, telephone lines, or power
lines.
• Stay away from natural lightning rods such as golf clubs, tractors, fishing rods,
bicycles, or camping equipment.
• Stay away from rivers, lakes, or other bodies of water.
If you are isolated in a level field or prairie and you feel your hair stand on end
(which indicates that lightning is about to strike), Crouch with hands on knees.
Remove all metal objects. DO NOT LIE FLAT ON THE GROUND!

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