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California Travel Tips

We Love California Rain & Snow, But for 24 Hours Don’t GO!

Published on: January 23, 2012

Photo: The news crews are out looking for the flood stories, as usual, but there’s something more important that locals and tourists should know.

Of course you’ll want to run to the mountains after this storm has passed through California, bringing a much needed blanketing of snow to the slopes and mountain tops. If you’re heading to the mountains, by all means check the traffic conditions (dot.ca.gov/hq/roadinfo/), then run GO!

But if you’re visiting the beaches, rivers, and streams fed by city run-off, give yourself at least 24 hours to head into the water and experts say 72 hours is best for giving the water a chance to absorb pollution and run-off.

Wouldn’t you think that avoiding entering the Pacific Ocean after it rains would be common sense? It isn’t. In addition to no warning signs posted at beaches, tourists from around the globe come to California all times of year and when they come, they want to enter the ocean just to say they’ve made it. It’s generally a lack of information about water quality issues that can make tourists sick.  Similarly, when Californians travel elsewhere, they often become sick when they don’t think about the water quality of oceans, streams, and even hotel swimming pools and saunas around the globe.

For several years I worked at a visitors bureau at a beach destination, answering calls and providing information for a variety of questions. I wasn’t even aware there was a problem till disturbing calls began coming in, with tourists asking me if the ocean could make them sick. It seems they visited California and went home with a variety illnesses that were unexpected. I began doing my own research and discovered that the water can have pollutants and be unsafe, any time! But there’s a very critical time to stay out, I learned. And that is after it rains. For water quality reports, always check before you go (healtheybay.org).

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