Looking forward to a New Year polar bear plunge? Check the water first

Toxic algae was detected in Lake Wilderness.

If you’re hoping to start your New Year with a dunk, make sure you check the water first, King County warns.

Public Health — Seattle & King County sent out a notice on Dec. 22 that potentially-toxic algae has been detected in three lakes, including Lake Wilderness in Maple Valley.

”Avoid going into the water at any lake where you can see algae, or where there is an advisory posted,” the press release reads. “Remember – when in doubt, stay out.”

The algae, commonly referred to as “blue-green algae,” can look like paint floating on the water.

While people can get sick because of the algae, pets can especially be at risk, as these sorts of algae blooms can be fatal to smaller animals. Symptoms include low energy, not eating, vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, or seizures, and can start within minutes to hours after exposure.

“Working with partners, we are posting signs at lake beaches warning people to be aware and keep their pets out of the water if algae is present,” Public Health said. “If your pet goes in or near water where an algae bloom is present, do not let them lick their fur and immediately rinse them with tap water. Don’t forget to rinse your hands and any exposed skin after rinsing your pet.”