The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge district health unit (HKPR) launched its annual beach monitoring program this week.

Each year, the health unit provides regular E. coli test results for 56 public beaches during the summer. The program will run June 17 to Aug. 30 this year. Results are updated every Friday and are available online, at, and on the health unit’s social media channels.

HKPR has adopted a three-colour system to report beach results. Green means low-risk, where a beach is open and considered safe for swimming; yellow is moderate-risk, which serves as a warning that high bacteria counts may be present and swimming is not advised; and red is high-risk, which indicates a beach is closed due to elevated levels of bacteria.

Bernie Mayer, HKPR health protection manager, said people should always check to make sure a beach is safe before visiting.

“Our 2022 resident survey showed that 69 per cent of respondents did not review the beach water test results before entering the water,” Mayer said. “Enjoy your summer, but please also prioritize your health by staying informed.”

As of press time, the health unit has not provided updates for any on the 19 public beaches in Haliburton County. They include the Dorset Parkette and Elvin Johnson Park in Algonquin Highlands; Eagle Lake Beach, Haliburton Lake Beach, Pine Lake Beach, Rotary Head Lake Beach, Sandy Cove Beach, Sandy Point Beach, and Slipper Beach in Dysart et al; Glamour Lake Beach, Gooderham Lake Beach, Paudash Lake Beach, and Wilbermere Lake Beach in Highlands East; and Bissett Beach, Forsters Beach, Horseshoe Beach, Rotary Park Lagoon, Rotary Park Main, and Twelve Mile Lake Beach in Minden Hills.

Swimming in water contaminated with E. coli can result in sickness, with symptoms usually beginning three or four days after exposure. The most common signs are diarrhea, which may range from mild and watery to severe and bloody, stomach cramping, pain or tenderness, and nausea and vomiting.

Exposure to E. coli can lead to kidney failure in young children and older adults, according to the Mayo Clinic.

HKPR encourages residents to contact a doctor and seek treatment if symptoms are severe, or last longer than a week.

Stay cool

With temperatures soaring, the health unit issued an extended heat warning alert for Haliburton County this week.

Environment Canada reported temperatures reaching 31 degrees Celsius June 17, with the warm weather continuing for much of the week.

HKPR issued a media release Monday, stating it issues heat warnings when daytime temperatures are expected to be 31 degrees Celsius or higher, with a minimum overnight low of 20 degrees Celsius or higher, for two consecutive days. A heat warning can also be issued when the humidex is forecast to be 40 or higher for two straight days. The health unit is warning people to be aware of heat-related illnesses, such as dehydration, heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. Symptoms can include tiredness and weakness, dizziness and fainting, rash, nausea and vomiting, rapid breathing, headaches, extreme thirst, and decreased urination.

“To help reduce the risk of heat-related illnesses… ensure you drink lots of water, even if you don’t feel thirsty, and try to spend time in an air-conditioned home or public building, such as a shopping mall, library, or community centre,” HKPR spokesperson Ashley Beaulac said. Minden Hills set up a cooling centre at S.G. Nesbitt Memorial Arena.