Swim safely and stay healthy at beaches and pools this summer
As the weather warms up and children and adults begin to flock to area beaches and pools to enjoy fun in the sun and physical activity, Public Health-Seattle & King County reminds swimmers to avoid swimming areas without lifeguards and to stay healthy by practicing good water hygiene to avoid recreational water illnesses and swimmers’ itch.
Recreational water illnesses
Recreational water illnesses are caused by germs such as Cryptosporidium, Giardia, Shigella, and E. coli O157:H7 that have the potential to infect a person who accidentally swallows or has contact with contaminated water.
Public Health recommends:
- Don’t swallow the water. Keep lake water out of your mouth.
- Cover diapers with tight plastic pants or use diapers designed for swimming.
- Do not swim in a pool or lake if you’ve had a fever, diarrhea, or nausea within the past 24 hours.
- Take a shower before swimming.
- Change diapers in a bathroom. Wash your hands after using the toilet or changing diapers.
- Take your children on bathroom breaks often.
Occasionally Public Health closes swimming beaches when bacteria levels in the water rise about established standards. Check the status of swimming beaches monitored by King County.
Public pool operators are required to maintain pools and spas that are continually chemically treated to kill harmful germs, as well as have safety features in place. It is the patron’s responsibility to follow all posted rules at pools and spas, including showering before use, wearing tight-fitting plastic pants over diapers, and avoiding use when sick. Pool owners and operators must ensure that fences and gate latches are working properly, and disinfectant levels are correct.
More information about the Public Health Water Recreation Program.
While the water quality of King County beaches is generally good, many ducks and geese share lakes with people. Swimmers’ itch is an itchy skin condition caused when parasites from water fowl burrow into a swimmer’s skin and die. While not contagious or long lasting, the parasite may cause itchy red bumps for about a week, and can become infected with excessive scratching.
To avoid swimmers’ itch, all lake swimmers and waders should:
- Liberally apply a waterproof sunscreen prior to swimming, which may provide some protection.
- Briskly dry off with a towel as soon as you come out of the water, including skin under swimsuits.
- Shower immediately if facilities are available.
Stay safe this summer at pools, beaches, and rivers by learning how to protect yourself and your family from preventable drowning or near drowning. Drowning is the second leading cause of death for children under the age of 14, so follow these rules and suggestions:
- Always provide supervision for children when they are in or near water.
- Ensure sober adults are present and able to provide immediate rescue to children in need.
- Choose swimming areas where lifeguards are present.
- Nine Seattle beaches have lifeguards from June 25 through late summer.
- Suburban cities in King County with life guarded beach programs beginning in late June include Bellevue, Kirkland, Redmond, Mercer Island, Renton, Sea Tac, Kent Federal Way, Maple Valley and Sammamish.
- Ensure your whole family knows how to swim.
- Wear a life jacket when swimming or boating in open water where a lifeguard is not present; all children under 12 must have an approved life jacket in vessels under 19 feet.
For more information on drowning prevention and opportunities for swimming lessons visit: