Is That Lake Safe for Swimming?

Portrait of young friends jumping from jetty into lake. Friends in mid air on a sunny day at the lake.

When you imagine an idyllic summer outing, what comes to mind? For many, it includes a fun day at a lake. Lakes offer a ton of activities, from boating to fishing. Even just lounging on the side of the lake and listening to the gentle lapping of the water against the shore can be a wonderful experience. But what about swimming? How can you tell if a lake is safe to swim in?

Water Conditions

To start with, it’s important to consider the condition of the water you’re about to jump into. Start by looking at the lake. Does the water look clean? Do you see algae growing? If you do, it’s best to avoid swimming in that lake. Check the temperature too. While swimming in cold water can have its benefits, you could be in for a rude awakening at best and an incredibly dangerous situation at worst if you aren’t prepared for it.

The Surrounding Area

Are there any farms or livestock near the lake? If so, you should probably think twice about getting in the water. The waste produced by animals and runoff from fertilized fields can easily make its way into lakes, polluting the water and making it unsafe to swim in. If you aren’t sure, get a test kit that you can use to test the water for E. coli. Beyond that, it’s vital that you be aware of the area surrounding the lake for more immediate safety reasons. Rocks quickly become slippery when wet and can cause serious injury if someone slips and falls nearby.

Weather Patterns

The weather changes on a pretty frequent basis, so while a lake may otherwise be perfectly safe to swim in, if the weather turns foul, your best move is to stay out of the water. Thunderstorms can make being in the water especially hazardous. Heavy winds can churn the water and create waves and influence currents in ways that can be difficult to deal with. Be sure to check out the weather forecast before you head out to save yourself the trouble of having to turn back if the weather is unsuitable for being out on the lake.

Not all lakes are suitable for swimming. The condition of the water itself, the area surrounding it, and the weather patterns in the area can all influence whether or not it’s safe to swim in a particular lake. Do yourself and those around you a favor and look into these things before jumping in to increase your chances of having a safe, fun lake excursion.

Drowning is a very real danger, no matter what body of water you’re swimming in. Check out our 10 Golden Rules of Water Safety & Drowning Prevention to help you stay safe out on the water.