Is anything more fun in the summer than going to the beach? The sand beneath your toes, the sound of the waves hitting into the shore—it’s one of the most relaxing ways to spend a sunny day.
However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t things to be cautious of when you’re laying on the sand or swimming in the water. Do you have enough sunscreen on? Drinking enough water? Is your child going to be eaten by a shark? Stung by a jellyfish? There are so many things to worry about all of a sudden.
Protect your skin.
First things first, lather on that sunscreen—especially on your kiddos, if you have any. Just one sunburn during childhood is enough to double their chance of getting melanoma later in life! Not to mention the high risks of heat exhaustion, heat stroke, and sun poisoning. Be sure to use an SPF that’s 15 or higher (much higher if you know you burn easily). Additionally, park yourselves under an umbrella and bring hats and sunglasses for when you walk away.
Drink lots of water.
Like protecting your outer skin from the sun, you have to protect your insides too. With the sun shining so bright, you might not be able to recognize if and when you’re getting dehydrated, so make sure you’re drinking H2O every half hour or so. Bring a cooler of ice water and make sure you refill when needed.
Avoid rainy day beach trips.
Of course rainy days are less than convenient for the beach, but sometimes they can also be dangerous, especially if there’s a lightning or thunderstorm in the forecast. If this type of dreary weather wasn’t in the forecast originally, but it starts to act up while you’re already there, just be sure to get out of the water as soon as possible to stay safe. If you have kids, it might be time to pack up and leave.
Know the wave conditions.
Not all waves are created equal, unfortunately. Some are fun, but the stronger waves can cause major injuries to both children and adults, whether it’s a sprain, broken bones, or a dislocated shoulder. While rare, strong waves can also cause internal injuries, such as organ trauma and spinal damage.
Beware of jellyfish.
Most people think of sharks at the beach, but jellyfish injuries are much more common. If you come into contact with a jellyfish, they can sting you with their tentacles, which can be very painful. Some types of jellyfish stings can severe or even fatal stings, so if this ever happens to you, it’s important to get it treated right away.
…And of sand fleas.
Though small, these creatures are mighty. A sand flea bite is similar to a mosquito bite, in that the point of contact will be rather itchy, red, and painful, and the welt might last a number of days. Sometimes people will develop a fever from sand fleas. Try not to scratch if you do get bit, and it might go away quicker.
Get a spot close to the lifeguard.
Another tip that’s especially important if you have kids with you. They’re trained to see things that others won’t necessarily spot—like someone drowning or being sucked into a rip current—and will be able to take charge. So station yourselves nearby making sure you’re in their line of vision. And make sure that when you’re in the water, you don’t drift too far.
Watch out for rip currents.
Speaking of rip currents, be aware when you see one. These are one of the biggest hazards for all swimmers, no matter how strong you might be. Don’t panic if you do get caught in one. Just remember to swim diagonally or parallel to the current. That way, you’re swimming across it and not through it.
Keep the alcohol to a minimum.
It’s fun to enjoy a few beers in the sand, but just keep track of how much you’re actually drinking. Alcohol + intense heat can be a pretty bad combo and cause dehydration or even fainting. Also, be sure to always swim sober (especially if you have kids!).
Get small children a life jacket.
Most beaches should have this on hand to rent, and it’s important for youngsters or just inexperienced swimmers in general to wear some kind of safety floating device. You don’t want to take any chances, even if there are lifeguards around. The beach is not a great place to teach someone how to swim.
Know the warning flag meanings.
Most beaches will wave flags to indicate certain things about the conditions of the water. Green usually means low hazard, but to still exercise caution, and red means high hazards. Purple can mean there might be dangerous marine life lurking. There are other flags as well—be sure to be cognizant of them.
Will you be heading to the beach this summer? How do you exercise caution on the beach?