Going Swimming This Summer? Beware These 6 Hidden Dangers in Washington Waters

Matt Lillywhite

Photo via Unsplash

If you're anything like me, you love swimming in the waters off the coast of Washington. On a summer's day, the ocean is a beautiful shade of blue, and the waters are incredibly inviting. However, it's important to remember the ocean has several hidden dangers. So whenever you go swimming off the coast of Washington, be sure to look out for the following hidden dangers:

Heat Exhaustion And Sunburn

A pleasant day on Washington's beaches may be ruined by excessive heat and sun. Furthermore, heat is the top cause of mortality in the United States, killing more people than floods, lightning, tornadoes, and hurricanes combined. Sunburn, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke are all symptoms of heat disorders. Any of these problems can result after a day at the beach, but the most noticeable is sunburn, which can take up to 24 hours to fully manifest. If a burn is serious, get medical attention immediately, particularly if it is coupled with a headache, chills, or fever.


Depending on the species, they can produce stings and tissue damage that vary from severe to fatal. If stung, apply vinegar to the injured area and get medical attention right away if you're in a region where there are known very dangerous species. The jellyfish's bell is visible, but the translucent, lengthy tentacles that can wrap around a limb and cause envenomation are not. If you come across a jellyfish that has washed up on a Washington beach, don't touch it.

Poor Water Quality

Coastal beaches are among the country's most valued natural treasures, yet poor water quality frequently causes beach closures or advisories, preventing the public from enjoying them. Untreated sewage from boats, pets, malfunctioning septic systems, fertilizers, and spills from dangerous chemicals pollute water as it moves from land to coastal waterways. Swimming directly in the water can induce stomach issues due to high amounts of bacteria and other toxins in the water. Be careful of all beach closures and cautions before visiting the beach.

Sea urchins

They have a hard shell coated in long, fine, sharp spines that even wet suits may not be able to protect you against. They typically live in shallow water and around rocky shorelines. The danger posed by touching or stomping on an urchin can result in local infection, and medical attention may be required to remove all of the spines.


In the state of Washington, shark attacks are uncommon. However, they are more likely to happen inshore of a sandbar or between sandbars, where sharks might become stranded by low tide, and near steep drop-offs where sharks' prey congregate. Although the probability of a shark attack is very low, it should always be avoided if at all feasible. Avoid swimming too far from the beach, swim in groups and avoid being in the water during nighttime. Also, don't go in the water if you're bleeding from a wound, keep sparkling jewelry at home, and avoid wearing brightly colored swimwear to lower your risk.


The edges of stony coral are razor-sharp. Coral wounds are common and can contain coral spicules and soft tissues, including nematocysts; injuries heal slowly and frequently lead to subsequent bacterial infection. Soft corals have minute spicules in their skeletons that can penetrate skin and create an unpleasant rash if they come into touch with it for an extended period of time.

What do you enjoy doing at the beach? Let me know your response in the comments.

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