Safety and Your Adopt-a-Beach™ Cleanup
A safe cleanup is a successful cleanup! Use these resources as guidance for hosting a safe cleanup. Always follow any additional state or local safety rules or requirements.
General Adopt-a-Beach safety guidelines
Adopt-a-Beach Team Leaders should stress personal safety with all volunteers by reviewing the following points before the cleanup begins:
- Never pick up dead animals or feces. Leave them where they are found.
- Never pick up sharp or unusual objects such syringes/needles. Leave them where they are found and contact the authorities or landowner if necessary.
- Be cautious with suspicious looking items. Leave them where they are found and contact the authorities for guidance.
- If children are volunteering at your event, tell them not to pick up items they are unsure of and to find an adult for help.
If you have any questions, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last year brought the return of a closer-to-normal Adopt-a-Beach season. However, COVID-19 related rules and guidelines vary and remain in force around the Great Lakes region. Adopt-a-Beach Team Leaders and volunteers must follow all federal, state, and local coronavirus-related guidelines and should use their best judgment when planning and attending cleanups.
When planning an Adopt-a-Beach cleanup, Team Leaders should:
- Follow all federal, state, and local guidelines for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals regarding mask-wearing, social distancing, and group size limits. Be sure to review and follow federal CDC guidelines for your specific community.
- Contact the beach landowner (e.g. state or local park district, etc.) to ask about any COVID-19 related restrictions at your selected beach or shoreline. Confirm that they will allow you to host an Adopt-a-Beach event at the location.
- NOTE: Cleanups happening in Chicago, Cleveland, or Michigan State Parks do not need to contact the landowner. The Alliance has a standing agreement with these parties for volunteers to host cleanups.
- If you are feeling ill or have been exposed to someone who may be ill, cancel or postpone your Adopt-a-Beach cleanup or find another volunteer to lead the cleanup. For more information on the symptoms of COVID-19, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control website.
- Wear gloves when handling litter or other debris.
- Wash your hands. Check that there is access to running water at your cleanup location (e.g. bathroom facilities). If not, bring plenty of soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with you to the cleanup.
- If a volunteer attending your cleanup appears to be ill, do not allow them to participate and contact local health authorities and the Alliance at email@example.com.
- If you or a volunteer learns after the cleanup that they were exposed to COVID-19 and may have exposed other attendees, contact local health authorities and the Alliance at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Encourage all attendees to register in advance on the Adopt-a-Beach website. This way, if a Team Leader needs to edit or cancel a cleanup, updates are automatically shared with registered attendees.
Alliance for the Great Lakes staff will update this guidance as appropriate and will communicate any new guidelines with Team Leaders and volunteers. If you have any questions, contact us at email@example.com.
The decision to cancel a cleanup is up to the discretion of each individual Team Leader. While many successful cleanups happen in the rain, when in doubt, err on the side of caution. The resources below may help you when you are considering whether to cancel or reschedule your cleanup.
- Forecast discussion pages have the most detailed information about weather event timing and a discussion about how certain (or not!) meteorologists are about their current predictions or weather models.
- This tool shows real-time information about the location and frequency of lightning strikes.
- If the forecast calls for thunderstorms or severe storms, postpone the start time of your cleanup or reschedule for a different day.
- Keep your eyes on clues that thunderstorms may be developing: increasing and darkening clouds (especially vertical ones), increasing rain, and increasing wind. If a developing storm is nearby, seek shelter before the first lightning flash.
- Remember: when there’s thunder, there’s lightning! Seek shelter if you hear thunder, even if you don’t see lightning. Wait thirty minutes after hearing the last thunder before leaving shelter.
- Heat index
- Consider cancelling your cleanup if there is an Excessive Heat Watch or Warning in your area. An air temperature of 90°F can easily feel like well over 100°F when combined with high humidity.
- Even if there is no formal heat advisory, on hot days, be sure to encourage your participants to take frequent breaks in the shade if possible.
- No matter the temperature, always bring a full water bottle to your cleanup!
- Winter cleanups
- While the majority of cleanups take place in the spring and summer, if you are on the beach in the winter, be sure to dress appropriately for the weather.
- NEVER walk on ice formations along the shore. Lake ice is often thin and shifting and forms in a way that makes it difficult to tell where the beach ends and the lake begins.
High water levels
Many of the Great Lakes continue to experience high water levels.
- Before scheduling your cleanup, visit your preferred cleanup location to be sure it is still a feasible site. Some beaches are currently underwater. Other beach and shoreline areas are significantly smaller and cannot accommodate large groups.
- Pay close attention to weather events, particularly with high winds. Waves may reach further onto a beach than you are used to, submerging most of the area. Waves can be very powerful. Be cautious and keep your distance.
- Be aware of submerged hazards. Although the majority of cleanups are held on solid ground, some volunteers enter the water. High water levels may submerge hazards such as piers, breakwaters, or natural formations.