For millions of Americans, summer wouldn’t be complete without at least one trip to the beach. Whether you enjoy taking a solitary stroll along the water’s edge at sunset or want to take a road trip with your family, hitting up some of the most popular beaches along the coastline, your trip to the beach may be dangerous if you’re not careful. Here are some tips to staying safe while at the beach without sacrificing fun:
Sun Protection and Hydration
The majority of beachgoers head to the beach to catch some rays, but it’s easy to overdo it, even on overcast days. While generations of sunbathers before us may not have been aware of the dangers of too much sun, we have no excuse not to wear sunscreen. Not only can too much sun (without sunscreen) lead to a nasty sunburn that can make you feel sick, but you can also become overheated and dehydrated, too. Wear light layers, such as a long sleeve cotton shirt, or a swimsuit coverup when you’re not in the water. Don’t forget to apply broad spectrum sunscreen before and after you go for a swim. Wear a hat, sunglasses, and bring a large umbrella, if you’re planning to lounge in the sand for the day.
Don’t forget to take frequent water breaks and avoid consuming alcohol, which can dehydrate you. If you stay protected from the sun and stay hydrated, you’re less likely to end the day with a case of heatstroke.
Know How to Swim
The ocean is inviting, but can also be extremely dangerous for swimmers of all abilities, even the best of swimmers have found themselves in danger from time to time. Children and anyone who is not skilled at swimming should wear a life preserver while in the water. Pay close attention to young children and elderly individuals, as they are most likely to lose their footing when the waves roll in and never attempt to go swimming when no one else is around or a lifeguard is not on duty.
As much as it may be tempting to do so, never dive into the water head first. Diving accidents are a common occurrence because many swimmers misjudge how much depth is below them and as a result end up with head, brain, and spinal injuries, some ending with paralyzation or even death. According to Marks & Harrison, Virginia personal injury attorneys, “A personal injury lawsuit can be pursued if you have been harmed by another’s careless, reckless or intentional acts.”
A rip current is a channel of water that flows away from the shore and can be narrow or more than 50 yards wide. Rip currents are very powerful and you should avoid them as much as possible, but if you are caught in one, stay calm and don’t fight the current. You will be pulled out into the ocean, but not underwater like waves have the tendency to do. Try to swim parallel to the shore, moving away and out of the rip current. If you become too tired, weak, or are unable to get out of the rip current, call for help. Lifeguards are trained to rescue swimmers from rip currents, unless you are properly trained, do not attempt to rescue someone caught in a rip tide. 80% of all beach rescues are related to rip currents and many deaths have resulted in someone else trying rescue others.
Other Safety Tips
There are many things to enjoy while at the beach, but here are some additional safety tips to keep in mind:
- Wear Footwear: Everyone likes the feeling of sand between their toes, but if you are walking along the beach, it’s a good idea to wear sandals or some kind of footwear to protect your feet from debris on the beach (glass, garbage) or from burning the bottoms of your feet on the hot sand.
- Know Your Limits: Whether you’re trying out surfing, sailing, or some other water sport, know your limits and don’t push yourself. Exhaustion and the being in the ocean can be a dangerous mix.
- Obey the Signs: Signs and lifeguards are put on the beach for a reason, to protect beachgoers from potential danger. Pay attention and obey all signs and if a lifeguard instructs you to do (or not do) something, listen.