Before heading to the beach, you’d be wise to take a look at these 5 tips to help your trip be fun, safe, and relaxing as can be!
With summer in full force, beach trips are something that so many of us look forward to! The smells of the sea and sunscreen in the warm breeze, sounds of ocean waves and playfulness, the utterly blissful feel of sand to bury your feet in and make sandcastles with…what more could you ask for?
Maybe just a little confidence in knowing what kinds of things to watch out for to help prevent your beach fun from being interrupted by a not-so-fun encounter. You’re in luck: I’m going to give you the inside scoop on 5 beach safety tips that I teach my Marine Bio students each year. Read on!
1. Always swim at a lifeguard protected beach and check the conditions board and flag color.
This way, you know ahead of time what sorts of hazards there might be, such as a jellyfish bloom or rip currents. And it’s nice to know there’s a lifeguard scanning the sea to check on you!
2. The tentacles of jellyfish and Portuguese Man-of-War (those bright blue balloon-looking creatures) that are on the beach CAN still sting, even when dead.
Watch out for them when walking on the beach and make sure the kiddos don’t start a game of catch that’s sure to end poorly. If you spot one while swimming, steer clear since the tentacles on some can reach several feet from their body.
3. Do the Stingray Shuffle when you’re walking in sand that’s covered by water to avoid getting stung by a stingray.
Simply shuffle your feet in the sand to let any hidden stingray know you’re near instead of pinning it down with a clean step. It will skitter away instead of defending itself with its stinger.
4. Most shark attacks are a case of mistaken identity (we’re not usually on sharks’ menu!) so to help them distinguish that you aren’t what they’re looking for, DON’T swim:
near people who are fishing or where bait fish are schooling
at dawn or dusk
when there is a shark schooling event (check conditions board)
Also, if you feel like something in the water “bumped” you, GET OUT IMMEDIATELY. Sometimes sharks do this to see what you are, and you don’t want to take the chance that it will come back for more.
This next tip may just be the most important one, since it is the #1 beach hazard (accounting for 100 deaths a year — more than from shark attacks, tornadoes and lightning strikes combined according to the NOAA!).
5. If you get caught in a fast current of water that propels you seaward, don’t panic or try to fight it or swim against it (it doesn’t pull you under).
Instead, to get out of this powerful current (called a rip current), swim to the side of the water flow (parallel with the beach) and then back to shore at an angle so you don’t get caught in it again. Knowing this can prevent a drowning from becoming exhausted trying to fight the current. If you’re not a good swimmer, rip currents can be especially dangerous, so think carefully about swimming in the ocean and consider just enjoying the ocean from the water’s edge.
(Take a look at www.ripcurrents.noaa.gov for more on rip currents.)
Stay hydrated. When you’re swimming in seawater, osmosis causes water to leak out of your cells and skin into the sea, making it more important for you to hydrate with fresh water! Try to use re-usable bottles, but if you’ve brought plastic disposable ones, be sure to toss them in a recycling bin or take them with you so they don’t end up in the ocean.
There you have it — remember these when you’re on your beach trip to make sure it lives up to the fun and rejuvenating time that it’s meant to be. Enjoy your beach time!