Summer is almost here, and with that change in season comes warmer weather, barbecues and trips to the beach. While heading out to the water is a great way to beat the summer heat, it’s essential to keep safety in mind so everyone can enjoy the beach safely.
Here are some easy summer safety tips to remember every time you head out to enjoy the water.
According to the EPA, roughly 96 million people visit an ocean beach at least once a year. When you include repeat trips, that adds up to nearly 2 billion vacations to U.S. beaches every single year.
Anytime you’re out in the sun, whether you’re at the beach, playing sports or just doing yard work, staying hydrated is essential. You might think you’re fine because you’re in the water, but swimming in saltwater can be very dehydrating. In the water, you may not even notice the symptoms of dehydration.
Dehydration can lead to dizziness, fatigue and headaches, and if untreated, it can lead to or exacerbate the symptoms of heat stroke.
Before you head to the beach, freeze your drinks or juice boxes. They keep the cooler cold and provide a great slushy treat to beat the heat. Also, consider bringing some water-rich foods to keep you hydrated while providing a tasty treat. Watermelon, for example, is 92 percent water, while cucumbers come in at 96 percent, and even crunchy treats like radishes and celery are 95 percent water.
Sun is a big part of summer beach trips — who wants to go to the beach on a cloudy day? Even if you love getting a bit of sun, it’s important to protect your skin from the sun’s rays. The FDA recommends using a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against UVA and UVB rays, with a minimum SPF of 15. You need to make sure to reapply your sunscreen, too — every two hours when you’re in the sun and more often if you’re swimming.
Also, try to limit your sun time between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. This is when the sun’s rays are strongest. If you’re going to be out during this part of the afternoon, invest in a beach umbrella to hang out under while you’re relaxing on the sand.
It’s also important to protect your eyes, though we know that you really don’t want to get sunscreen in them! Pick up a nice pair of sunglasses that are labeled for UVA and UVB protection. Throw on a stylish hat while you’re at it!
We all go to the beach wanting to get in the water, but it’s important to be alert to dangerous swimming conditions. Most beaches, even if they don’t have lifeguards, will have colored flags to alert you to various dangers in the water.
Red flags signal rough waters and dangerous conditions for swimming. Some beaches may even close when they’re flying a red flag.
Yellow flags signal fewer hazards, but you should still proceed with caution.
Green flags mean all conditions are good for swimming. Feel free to hop in the water!
Some beaches may also fly blue or purple flags to indicate hazardous marine life. Make sure you’re aware of any hazardous wildlife at your beach.
Jellyfish stings aren’t terribly common, but you may run across one of the gelatinous creatures washed up on the beach. If you do, don’t touch it. It might look dead, but it can still sting you.
If you are stung by a jellyfish while swimming, get out of the water and rinse the affected spot with seawater. If there are still jellyfish tentacles stuck to your skin, remove them with tweezers or scrape them off with a credit card or other plastic object. Be cautious — the nematocysts, or stinging cells, on the tentacles can continue to sting after they’ve been removed from the jellyfish’s body.
Once the tentacles have been removed, either soak the affected spot in hot water if it’s available or treat with ice packs. If the stings itch or swell, treat them with antihistamines or hydrocortisone, and seek medical attention if you show any sign of a severe or allergic reaction.
Drowning is one of the biggest dangers that accompany a trip to the beach. One out of every five people who die from drowning is a child under the age of 14. At the beach, rip currents and other water hazards can make it more dangerous to swim if you’re not careful.
If you’re taking kids to the beach with you, make sure they know how to swim. Giving a child swimming lessons can reduce their risk of drowning but more than 85 percent. If your beach has a lifeguard, know where they are at all times — it’s always best to choose a beach that keeps a lifeguard on staff whenever possible.
Hot cars are easily the most dangerous thing during warmer summer weather — even if it feels temperate outside your car, once the engine is off, the temperatures inside start to rise. Research has found that the temperatures can climb 40 degrees or more inside the car, no matter what the exterior temperature is.
Don’t forget kids or pets in the backseat. If you’re worried, try setting up a system to remind you that you’ve got an extra passenger. Keep a teddy bear in your child’s seat when they’re not there. When they’re in the car, move the bear to the front passenger seat to remind you that someone is back there.
If you’re bringing your dog along, first make sure they’re allowed on the beach with you. If you’re going to a beach that’s not pet-friendly, don’t bring them along. If they are coming, though, make sure they have plenty of water — it’s just as important for them to stay hydrated as it is for you.
When you’re driving around beaches, make sure you stick to the speed limit and keep your eyes open for pedestrians.
Enjoy your trip to the beach, but make sure you do it safely. Keep these tips in mind to ensure you have a fun and safe vacation this summer!