Can you think of any better way to spend the glorious days of summer than listening to the rushing sound of waves crashing onto the golden sands of the beach? While the sun, surf, and sand innocently beckon vacationers to the coastline for long overdue relaxation and fun, the beach also hosts a number of dangers. Before you grab those beach chairs from the garage, take a quick minute to read these five important safety tips to remember before sinking your toes into the sand.
1. Sun Protection – Whether it’s sunny or overcast, apply a sunscreen with a minimum of SPF-15 at least fifteen to thirty minutes before going outside so your skin will have adequate time to absorb the lotion. Reapply often as recommended by the manufacturer since swimming and sweating decrease the effectiveness of even a waterproof sunscreen. Don’t forget a protective lip balm and pair of sunglasses. Stake a beach umbrella in the sand for when you need refuge from the sun’s rays. And it’s a good idea to keep a wide-brimmed hat and t-shirt or swimsuit cover-up handy in case your skin begins to burn. Remember to drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration and heat exhaustion. Avoid caffeine and alcohol, as both promote dehydration.
2. Sand Safety – Never throw trash on the beach – it not only destroys the environment, it also creates hazards for bare feet. To avoid cuts and burns, leave glass bottles at home, and don’t use the sand as an ashtray. Setting off firecrackers is a popular pastime at the beach, but poses serious dangers and is often illegal. Play it safe, and limit the fireworks to professional displays.
3. Swimming in the Surf – The turbulence of the ocean presents unexpected challenges not encountered by swimmers in a controlled pool environment. Consider taking swimming lessons if you are not a skilled swimmer. Always swim near a lifeguard station, and obey all warnings. Because lifeguards have numerous people to protect, parents should always watch their children closely, and everyone should swim with a buddy. Never dive into unfamiliar waters, and don’t turn your back to the ocean since breaking waves can slam you face down into the ocean floor.
4. Rip Currents – A rip current is a strong channel of water moving from the shoreline seaward. Never swim near piers or jetties, as rip currents are almost always present at these locations. If you find yourself caught in a rip current being pulled out to sea, don’t panic. Begin swimming parallel to the shoreline until you are out of the current, then swim to shore. Never swim against the current, as this only leads to exhaustion, increasing the risk of drowning.
5. Jellyfish Stings – Heed warnings to stay away from areas where jellyfish have been spotted. These beautiful balloon-looking creatures have poisonous tentacles that can inflict painful stings. If you are stung by a jellyfish, the lifeguard station may be able to offer first aid. Wash the affected area with water, then apply vinegar, rubbing alcohol, baking soda, or a cortisone cream for pain relief. If you experience symptoms such as headache, nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath, or joint pain, seek medical attention immediately.
A little knowledge goes long way in avoiding unfortunate situations that could ruin what should be a great day at the seashore. Taking simple precautions and respecting the powerful forces of nature will ensure you and your family create nothing but happy memories at the beach!