With Memorial Day weekend approaching, the Health Department is reminding beachgoers to sign up for the Health Department’s “Know Before You Go” free text alert service. New Yorkers planning to visit one of New York City’s eight public beaches, can get free* text alerts when a beach is open or closed, as well as critical information on weather conditions or water quality issues that could make the beaches unsuitable for swimming. Simply text “BEACH” or “PLAYA” to 877877 to get the status of any of the eight public beaches in the city.
“New York City’s beaches are a favorite destination for millions of residents and tourists every year,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “The Health Department’s texting service will offer up-to-date information on water quality conditions, allowing New Yorkers to plan ahead and helping to ensure that everyone’s trip to the beach is a safe one.”
“After Wednesday’s tragic drowning of a teen boy, I strongly encourage all New Yorkers to use the free ‘Know Before You Go’ text message service before visiting any of our beaches, and to only visit when life guards are on duty. Weather and tides can be unpredictable, and with one quick message, beach-goers can find out if a life guard is on duty, and if conditions are safe enough for them and their families to visit,” said Harlem Council Member Mark Levine, Chair of Parks Committee.
The Department is promoting the “Know Before You Go” texting service on social media, including Twitter and Facebook.
New York City has more than 15 miles of beach access at eight public and 15 private beaches. The NYC Health Department is responsible for beach surveillance and routine water quality monitoring of all public beaches and regularly tests the water quality near the City’s beaches to make sure it is safe for swimming. When water quality is compromised from excessive rain runoff, sewage or other pollution, it can pose health risks to swimmers. Text alerts will notify beachgoers of any water quality or wet weather conditions, as well as beach closures and reopening schedules. Public and private beaches will also post easy-to-read water quality advisory and closure signs at the beach to help make sure all beach goers are aware of any health or safety risks.
In 2014, the Health Department unveiled new public notification signs for beach water quality warnings. These signs were recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency for communicating the core warnings clearly and directly and providing supplemental information.
Before going to the beach, the Health Department encourages New Yorkers to learn if the water is safe to swim, check that there is a lifeguard present, and always supervise children when near the water. Remember to protect your skin and use sunscreen to avoid burns. All of the City’s beaches are smoke-free.
In addition to the texting service, the public can also call 311 to find out if there are any warnings or closures before heading out to the beach. For more information on beaches and water quality information, please visit: nyc.gov/health/beach.
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