Today, Justin and I decided that we were going to head to the lake. We asked Ryan and Renee if they wanted to come with, and off we went. It was a gorgeous, beautiful day. Beautiful enough to get this girl into a swim suit, and trust me, that's saying something. We got to the lake, and it was perfect weather--warm, but not blazing hot. The lake was full to the brim. All was right with the world.
We splashed around in the lake a bit, letting Lizzy splash the water with her feet. The lake is mountain run-off, so it was a little cold. We elected not to dunk her underwater, even though she's doing AWESOME with that in swim lessons.
After about a half an hour of playing in the water, we were all lounging on blankets. I left Lizzy with Justin, and went to stick my toes in the water. I had just dipped them into the cool sand when a little boy came running over to me yelling, "Liver damage! Out of the water! Liver damage! Come with me!"
I followed him about 45 yards away, to a half sheet of paper attached to a little stick. We had assumed that it was a simple "no camping" or "no littering" sign, like we often see at the lake. But no. It was a sign that read as follows:
TOXIC ALGAE. ABSOLUTELY NO SWIMMING.
Toxic algae can cause serious injury or death. Children and pets are particularly susceptible.
Crap. I started flipping out almost immediately. I called the number on the sign to make sure that the warning was still valid...because really, who thinks that a little half sheet of paper tacked to a little stick is sufficient signage to warn about death-inducing algae?! If there was really a death-inducing algae bloom, I would expect caution tape, balloons, forest rangers patrolling the shores, or at least full page signs all over the place. Like maybe, I don't know, at the park entrance.
Unfortunately, the warning was current, and the forest ranger kindly told me to watch for vomiting and respiratory distress. Absolutely fantastic. We immediately took wipes to every inch of Lizzy's skin, and packed everyone up to head home and bathe more sufficiently. On the way, I placed a frantic call in to the pediatrician, who told me that because Lizzy was just splashing her legs in the water, she really wasn't concerned--just to give her a good bath. Apparently, the real concern is when you're swimming with your head underwater and potentially ingesting the algae.
Still, I am thanking God for our Angelcare monitor tonight, because I am more than a little rattled about all this.
But more than anything, I'm really, really irritated about the lack of signage at the lake. I know some people look at the little sign and say, 'Eh, whatever.' But we wouldn't have, had we actually known about the algae ahead of time...I just don't understand how anyone would think that a little half page piece of paper tacked to a stick would be sufficient for making sure that people don't swim in the toxic freaking algae...