Sand. Sun. Surf. Three of my favorite S words. My other favorite? Safety! If you’re a beach bum like I am, you know the relaxation the ocean can bring, but you are also familiar with the potential risks. Besides steering clear of jelly fish and protecting yourself from a terrible sunburn, here are some other important safety tips to keep in mind when heading to the shore this summer.
- Only swim at a lifeguard-protected beach and stay within the designated swimming area. Pay attention to the color of the flags posted on the beach. Some lifeguards use different colors to represent the hazards of the ocean that specific day. If you’re not sure, ask the lifeguard what the conditions are.
- Listen to the lifeguard. If they blow their whistle or tell people to get out of the water, follow their instructions.
- Swim with a friend. Don’t go out into the ocean on your own, and don’t let others do the same. Swimming alone can be very dangerous.
- Keep an eye on children or elderly persons. Waves can cause people to lose their footing and get knocked underwater.
- Make sure young children or inexperienced swimmers are wearing life jackets. Stay close to them when swimming or playing in the water. Floaties or inner tubes are not a safe enough flotation device for swimmers who are inexperienced.
- Stay away from piers and jetties when in the water. It is recommended that you keep a distance of at least 500 feet when swimming, wading, or surfing. These are usually areas for rip currents.
- Educate yourself and family members on the dangers of rip currents. Rip currents have been measured as fast as 8 feet per second—faster than an Olympic swimmer! If you find yourself caught in a rip current, swim parallel to the shore until you are out of it and then swim in.
- Wear sunscreen! This is especially important for children and adults with fair or sensitive skin. To increase coverage from the sun, grab a beach umbrella or wear an SPF protected swim shirt. Also remember to drink water throughout the day. Being out in the sun can cause dehydration.
- Leave your valuables back at the hotel or beach house. Don’t risk having these items lost or stolen.
- Keep the beach and water clean. This isn’t only for your safety and the safety of others, but also for the safety of the birds, animals, and sea life. Pollution can have an effect on the entire ecosystem. Pick up after yourself and help keep the beach beautiful and litter free!
Some of these tips may seem like common sense, but I feel it’s always important to reiterate these to friends or family regardless of how many times you frequent your favorite sandy spot. Remember to have fun and stay safe this summer!