SMITHVILLE, MO (KCTV) -- Unfortunately, it’s not a rare occurrence for E. coli levels to rise at area Lakes this time of year. KCTV5 News put together a checklist to keep you and your family safe when advisories are issued.

There’s nothing sweeter than little kids enjoying a summer day. Lorena Romo and her family stopped at Smithville Lake on a whim Wednesday.

“We’re like, there’s a lake out here and we’ve never been to it, so we just wanted to come and see,” Romo said.

And while the portion of the beach her children are playing on is safe, just across the lake the Camp Branch Beach has signs posted warning swimmers, it’s just not safe.

Elevated levels of E. coli were found in the water, likely thanks to all the recent flooding. Doctors said the danger comes from getting that water in your mouth, either through swimming or by eating right after swimming or through an open wound.

Dr John Alm, with the University of Kansas Health System, knows a thing or two about swimming and the potential for getting sick. He’s the team physician for the USA swim team and US Olympic Open water team.

Alm has one piece of advice we can all use, wash your hands and face and use soap, not just anti-bacterial gel.

“As soon as you’re done swimming, you want to try to shower off and change as quickly as you can,” Alm said.

That goes for any body of water, whether it’s a lake, a pond or even a swimming pool. Bacteria lives and can thrive in any body of water and it can make you terribly sick.

Alm said, if you’ve recently been near water that’s tested positive for higher levels of E. coli, keep a close watch on your family.

“If you went swimming a few days ago and started getting sick symptoms or you notice when your kiddos are getting sick, that would be the time to maybe reach out to your primary care physician,” Alm said.

Many of the area lakes are checked weekly and you can always call ahead before you and your family hit the beach. is now with you on the go! Get the latest news updates and video, StormTrack5 weather forecast, weather radar, special investigative reports, sports headlines and much more from KCTV5 News. 

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