The City of Racine Public Health Department Laboratory is involved in several public access and education initiatives, primarily associated with coastal recreational areas. Water safety is important for anyone who lives in or visits Racine County and uses one of the beautiful Lake Michigan beaches or inland bodies of water.
Below is a presentation on how to be safe when swimming or playing near water, including information about rip currents, drowning prevention, and features found in and along Lake Michigan.
Water Safety in Racine County
For more information about water safety:
Great Lakes Water Safety Consortium (GLWSC)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) - Water Related Injuries
Harmful Algal Blooms
Blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) occur naturally in freshwater. Under certain conditions, such as warmer water temperatures, high nutrient levels, and plentiful sunshine, they can multiply rapidly to produce a bloom. When there are toxins (cyanotoxins) present in the blooms, they are called harmful algal blooms (HABs). Coming into contact with, inhaling, and/or swallowing water containing the cyanotoxins can cause health problems for people and animals.
There are several characteristics to watch for that indicate the presence of a possible HAB. While only laboratory testing can confirm if toxins are present, avoid any water that shows signs of a HAB. These include:
- The water appears green, like "pea soup"
- The water has a swampy odor
- There are scum, mats, foam, and/or paint-like streaks in the water or on the shore
If the water has any of the above signs, do not go into the water and do not let children or pets play in or drink it. In addition, the Public Health Department Laboratory has signs warning beach visitors about the presence of HABs in Racine. Do not enter the water if one of these signs is posted.
See the links below for more information about identifying HABs, why they are dangerous, and how to avoid getting sick.
Blue-Green Algae in Wisconsin
EPA National Recommendations for Exposure to Cyanotoxins
Look Out for Harmful Algal Blooms