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Beach Safety Tips

Wisconsin's beaches are a great place to swim, build sand castles or watch the sun set over the water. Beachgoers will find 57 miles of public beaches on Lake Michigan and Lake Superior alone, and plenty of places to dip their toes in on Wisconsin's 15,000 inland lakes and 84,000 miles of river.

Beach conditions and water quality

More than 100 Wisconsin public beaches along Lake Michigan and Lake Superior regularly test beach water quality and inform beachgoers about conditions. Beachgoers can go online for the latest conditions, for maps of the beaches and to learn which beaches in a general area are open. Beachgoers will also find signs posted at the beach with similar information.

Tips to enjoy your days at the beach

Regardless of which beach you're visiting, some common sense precautions can help you maximize your fun. The following tips will help you stay safe on the water, avoid getting sun burned and avoid getting sick if there are elevated bacteria levels in the water.

  • Never swim alone.
  • Stay in designated swimming areas.
  • Drink plenty of fluids.
  • Wear sunglasses that absorb at least 90 percent of UV sunlight.
  • Wear sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher) and a wide-brimmed hat.
  • Spend part of your day in shaded areas.
  • Wash your hands before eating.
  • Shower after swimming.
  • Don't swallow the water.
  • Avoid swimming after heavy rain.
  • Don't swim near storm drains.

Help keep beaches clean

Citizens in many communities are already playing a role in helping keep their beaches open and clean for swimmers now and in the future. Here are some steps you can take on your own to help protect your favorite beach.

  • Dispose of litter in appropriate beachside containers – especially cigarette butts, diapers and pet waste.
  • Please DO NOT feed gulls and waterfowl. It only encourages the birds to hang out at the beach too, which increases the risk of fecal matter at the beach.
  • Don't enter the water if you are ill.
  • Change diapers and put plastic/rubber pants on diapered children before allowing them in the water.
  • Do not dump anything down storm drains. Encourage and participate in such community activities as painting "Do Not Dump" signs near storm drains.
  • Avoid using fertilizers and pesticides on your yard.