By Julia Pepler
As summer heats up, one of the best ways to cool off is by the water. There are countless ways to ensure your trip to the beach is one for the books. Take the time before you head down to the water to check Swim Guide in order to easily find the closest beaches, know at a glance which ones are safe for swimming, and share your love of the water with friends and family.
Check the Water Quality
One of the most important ways to stay healthy when getting in (or on) the water is checking the water quality. On our free Swim Guide app, you can see the most recent status for over 8,000 beaches in 10 countries around the world. There are over 190 beaches in British Columbia alone that are available on Swim Guide!
Simply visit www.swimguide.org or download the free app on your Android or iOS device and find your beach on the map or by searching its name. A beach is simply coloured green when it has passed relevant water quality standards and red when it has failed.
If the beach hasn’t been tested within the past week it will display as historical status and a water quality graph to show what percentage of samples have passed or failed this year. Keep your eyes peeled for any special status banners or badges in case there is any contamination we think you should know about.
Know the Amenities
It’s helpful to know what amenities are available once you get down to the beach. Is there a bathroom? A drinking fountain? A concession stand with snacks and refreshments? On Swim Guide, each beach has a description which often lists known amenities that are available to the public.
Become a Citizen Scientist
Once you’re at the beach keep your eyes open for any pollution concerns. If you see something that doesn’t look quite right, snap a picture and fill out a pollution report on the Swim Guide website or app. Give us some details and we’ll make sure the information reaches the right people.
If the beach looks all clear, send us a picture anyway! We won’t be able to visit all of BC’s beaches this summer but your updated shots help us track beach health over time. Learn how to take the perfect shot for our photo sharing function on the Swim Guide app.
Looking to get more involved? We are creating a team of volunteers to help us collect water quality samples and observations weekly in False Creek, as part of our Vancouver Water Monitoring Program. We know that when people are connected to water, they are more likely to protect it. As a citizen scientist, you would be at the forefront of collecting valuable recreational water quality data that is uploaded to Swim Guide, thereby empowering the public to make informed decisions about when and where to get out on the water. To learn more about volunteer opportunities, click here.
Don’t see your favourite beach on Swim Guide?
We are always looking to expand our available data on Swim Guide. If there’s a beach missing that you think we should get on the map, tell us here.
Swim Guide offers lots of important information about water quality and beach amenities, but there are always safety protocols to be aware of when it comes to open water. Learn about your local waterbody’s currents and tides, stay aware of boat traffic, swim with a buddy, and always be alert.