Beach Safety Tips

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From death-defying rip currents and red-hot sun to jellyfish stings and shark attacks, the beach can be a pretty scary place.

But it doesn't have to be. Experts tell us that a day at the beach can be ... well ... a day at the beach -- when you know what to look out for.

Swimming and water activities are very healthy so long as you use appropriate caution for yourself and your family when you visit the beach,"

The first step is knowing where danger lurks and how to avoid it.

Rip Currents

Nearly 80 percent of beach lifeguard rescues are due to riptides -- strong currents of water that pull away from the shore -- according to the USLA

The worst thing you can do if you're caught in a riptide is try to fight the currents and swim to shore.

Remember to stay calm and swim parallel to the shore until the current relaxes -- which usually doesn't take long -- and then swim to shore.

Or just float or tread water until you're out of the current. Teach your kids to do the same if they get caught too.

If you do happen to get caught in a rip current, swim to the side one way or the other until you no longer have difficulties or feel yourself being pulled.

Whatever you do, don't fight the current because these currents can move up to 8 knots, which is faster than an Olympic swimmer can swim.. 

In many cases, you will be simply unable to outpower the rip current, so you'll want to outsmart it.

Another option is to tread water until someone can assist you. 

Always swim near a lifeguard and never swim alone. 

Remember, even a very confident swimmer can experience difficulties and if there is an emergency and you are alone, you may not be noticed

Tip: Swim near a lifeguard. The chance of drowning is five times higher at a beach that doesn't have one

Float Where You Can Swim

If you have a raft, don't take it any further from shore than you have the capability to swim.. 

If you are using a floating device such as a body board or raft, use a leash so that if you fall off, you don't lose the device.

Alcohol and Swimming Don't Mix

"You should avoid alcohol while swimming," Brewster says. According to the USLA, alcohol can reduce your body temperature and impair your swimming ability as well as impair judgment, causing you to take unnecessary risks.

Jumping Over Jelly Fish

Jellyfish are a pain -- literally -- to swimmers in every ocean of the world. 

Some are harmless, but others are poisonous, with barbed tentacles that inflict pain and irritation on people who come in contact with them. 

Mild to moderate stings can produce immediate burning pain, itching, blisters, numbness and tingling.

They can also leave painful red marks that may take one or two months to go away.

But prevention is easy: Don't swim, play or sit anywhere near them!

(Note: If you feel sick or have trouble breathing after a jellyfish sting or if the stings cover a large area, seek emergency treatment.)

Tip: Soothe the discomfort with ice packs and skin creams.

Southwest Florida ( Stingray Season ) Shuffle......

  • From the First of May until the end of October every year is Stingray season on the beaches of Southwest Florida. 
  • The first thing most locals will tell you is to "Shuffle" your feet as you walk in the surf.
  • By shuffling your feet, you will scare off any stingrays before you have a chance to step on them.
  • It doesn't matter how big or small they are, if you step on them they will nail you with the barb in their tail out of defense.

Steer Clear of Sharks

You are far more likely to be injured in a car accident driving to the beach than to ever even see a shark. 

To avoid becoming a statistic, "don't wear shiny jewelry or swim at dusk. Shark bites are believed to be a result of prey identification mistakes where the shark thinks you are a fish or a seal."

Mind the Water Quality

Most communities test beach waters and are required to do so under federal legislation," Brewster says. 

"It's a good idea to find out what the water quality is before you go in because the results of poor water quality are gastrointestinal distress, ear infection, and occasionally more serious problem.. 

A good call is to avoid the ocean right after a rain fall. "If you have recently had heavy rainfall, there is a high likelihood that water quality may have degraded to at least some degree.

Red tide is a bloom of microscopic algae that emits a toxin that can cause respiratory irritation in people and kills marine life, from manatees to baitfish..

Red tide events off Southwest Florida shore happens from time to time. The duration usually is short lived however People with emphysema or asthma should avoid the beach.

Lightning Strikes

Lightning kills about 60 Americans a year, according to the National Weather Service, and injures more than 300, often leaving them with debilitating long-term conditions such as memory loss, dizziness, chronic pain and muscle spasms.

Lightning can strike as far as 10 miles from where it's raining. 

As soon as you hear thunder, leave the beach and take shelter in an enclosed vehicle or building. (Open-sided beach pavilions or snack shacks won't protect you.)

Stay off the beach for 30 minutes after the last clap of thunder.

Tip: When you get to the beach, scope out a safe shelter in case there's thunder. Make sure your kids know to come out of the water at the first rumble
.

Slather on Sunscreen
Your Children & Beach Safety

  • Babies under 1 year of age should stay out of the sun. Use lightweight, light-colored clothing. Always cover a baby's head with a hat.

  • Use sunscreen with a PF of at least 15. Do not use a sunblock with a PF of more than 4 on babies under 6 months old due to the possibility that the baby's skin could absorb the chemical and his or her system could not eliminate it.

  • Use extra caution around reflective surfaces.

Nothing can ruin a day at the beach like sunburn. Research has shown that sun exposure prior to the age of 18 significantly increases the risk of developing skin cancer later in life. 

New research has shown that sunburns after the age of 20 also increase the risk of developing melanoma. "You can substantially reduce your risk of getting burnt and developing skin cancer by taking certain precautions.

The first thing is wearing sunscreen, but it's not just about sun protection factor (SPF), it's also about the other ingredients. Choose sunscreens with titanium dioxide or zinc oxide.

Tip: Choose a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher and use approximately 2 tablespoons of it to cover your entire body. Apply a half hour before heading out, and reapply every two hours or right after swimming or heavy sweating.

Make a firm rule that kids sit under a beach umbrella whenever they're not swimming.

Have them wear a hat, sunglasses and a shirt or cover up when they're walking around or playing in the sand. And of course, slather on the sunscreen and SPF lip balm

Remember that "none are sweat-proof or rub-proof, so they all have to be reapplied every two hours, particularly if you are sweating or swimming,

The sunlight is most intense from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The sun is a lot stronger than it was 10 or 20 years ago because ozone has thinned out.

Dehydration

Children and adults over age 60 are most -- and are at greater risk of developing life-threatening complications if they don't replace lost fluids.

Tip: In addition to drinks, pack your cooler with fruit, which has a high liquid content. Cold watermelon chunks or frozen grapes are summertime favorites.

Beach & Water Safety

San Diego lifeguards want everyone who visits San Diego beaches to have a safe and enjoyable experience.

In an effort to avoid tragic accidents, San Diego lifeguards ask anyone coming to the beaches and coastal areas to consider the following safety guidelines:

  • Learn to swim
  • Swim near a lifeguard
  • Never swim alone
  • Supervise children closely, even when lifeguards are present
  • Don't rely on flotation devices, such as rafts or inner-tubes. Even US Coast Guard approved lifejackets are not a substitute for swimming ability
  • If caught in a rip current, swim sideways until free, don't swim against the current's pull
  • Do not swim while under the influence of illicit drugs, medications that may cause impairment or alcohol
  • Protect your head, neck and spine -- don't dive into unfamiliar waters -- feet first, first time
  • If you are in trouble, call or wave for help
  • Follow regulations and lifeguard directions
  • Swim parallel to shore if you wish to swim long distances
  • Scuba dive only if trained and certified -- and within the limits of your experience and training
  • Report hazardous conditions to lifeguards or other beach management personnel
  • Stay clear of coastal bluffs, they can collapse and cause injury
  • Never turn your back to the ocean -- you may be swept off coastal bluffs or tide pool areas by waves that can come without warning.

Seven Tips for Kids Beach Safety*

  1. Keep Kids Within Arm's Reach
    Especially in the sea, but also on land.
  2. Don't Dive In
    2/3 of catastrophic neck injuries occur in open water and the sea.
  3. Knee Deep Is Too Deep
    Strong winds, waves and currents create dangerous rip currents that can sweep a child out to sea.
  4. Know Before You Go
    Know your flags - Red means stop; Green means go.
  5. Take Frequent Breaks
    Every hour take a sun, water or bathroom break.
  6. Go With The Wind
    Lost children tend to take the course of least resistance - follow the wind to find your kid.
  7. Look But Don't Touch
    Call local authorities to help injured or stranded animals.

Please Note: This information is provided as a guideline and not intended as medical advice. If complications arise due to a sunburn or sun exposure, contact your doctor immediately.

From death-defying rip currents and red-hot sun to jellyfish stings and shark attacks, the beach can be a pretty scary place.

But it doesn't have to be. Experts tell us that a day at the beach can be ... well ... a day at the beach -- when you know what to look out for.

Swimming and water activities are very healthy so long as you use appropriate caution for yourself and your family when you visit the beach,"

The first step is knowing where danger lurks and how to avoid it.