Beach safety tips

Beach safety tips

To ensure a safe beach vacation, please follow our beach rules and guidelines.

  • Learn to swim. The best way to stay safe in and around water is to learn to swim. This applies to both children and adults. (You're never too old to pick up new skills!) Try to swim near manned lifeguard stands. Children and toddlers must be supervised at all times.
  • Check surf conditions before you enter the water. Make sure no warnings are posted and no warning flags are up. (Red flag = swimming is prohibited. Yellow flag = dangerous conditions.) Find out the water temperature and tide schedule. Observe the water currents. Rip tides can appear normal. The best advice if you're caught in a rip tide is to remain calm, and swim parallel to the shore. Try not to let the tide carry you out, but definitely do NOT swim against the tide.
  • Swim within designated swimming areas. Stay clear of piers, pilings and rocks. Rely on your swimming ability and not flotation devices. Do not swim during thunderstorms or strong winds. Do not dive into unknown water or into shallow, breaking waves. If bodyboarding, use swim fins and a leash. Stay out of the surf zone, where waves break as waves are most forceful at this point.
  • Never fake calls for help. If in trouble, signal a lifeguard by shouting "help" and waving your arms. If you or someone in your group gets lost, find the nearest lifeguard. Report unsafe conditions to lifeguards and follow their advice. They are trained in beach and water safety. Respect their experience and judgment and never interfere with their work.
  • Do not throw sand, and fill in holes before you leave the beach. Do not dig deep holes, especially close to the shoreline. Holes can cave in and trap someone. Attempting to dig them out is not always effective and can cause further caving. Call professional rescue help immediately.
  • Drink plenty of water. Even if you don't feel thirsty. Avoid alcoholic beverages and caffeine—they dehydrate the body, worsening the effects of heat.
  • Protect your skin. Limit the amount of direct sunlight you receive, especially between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Use sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher. Do not sunbathe for long periods at a time. Many people suffer from sunburn for days from their first long day of sun exposure.
  • Wear eye protection. Sunglasses with UV protection are a must. They protect the eyes from sun damage. Your sunglasses should absorb a minimum of 90% of UV rays.
  • Wear foot protection. Sandals and shoes prevent feet from getting burned on the (very hot) sand or cut from glass or sharp shells in the sand.
  • Watch for signs of heat stroke. Heat stroke is life threatening. Symptoms include hot, red, dry skin; changes in consciousness; rapid, weak pulse; and shallow, rapid breathing.

Heat stress first aid

  • Sunburn—Skin redness, swelling, pain, blisters, fever and headaches. Ointments help mild cases with fresh aloe being the best cure. Cut a stalk of aloe from the plant, squeeze the golden yellow sap and gently rub on the skin. (You may not smell good, but your skin will feel much better.) Severe sunburns should receive medical treatment.
  • Cramping—Occurs in legs and occasionally in the abdomen. Gentle massage may help. Sips of mild salt water may also help (1 tsp. of salt to 8 oz. water). If symptoms persist, see a doctor.
  • Heat Exhaustion—Profuse sweating, weak pulse and severe fatigue. Skin may be pale and feel cold and clammy. Severe cases are indicated by fainting and vomiting. Move person to a cool location, preferably air-conditioned, and apply cool compresses. Sip water or juice to rehydrate. If symptoms continue, seek medical attention.
  • Sunstroke—Very high fever (41°C/106°F), rapid and strong pulse, and hot, dry skin. Move victim to cool location immediately. Apply cool, wet compresses and seek medical attention. This condition can be fatal.

Last but not least, respect other beach patrons and remember your beach manners. Do not leave your trash on the beach and do not consider the sand a giant ashtray.

Keep these tips in mind and you'll have a safe, healthy, happy and fun beach vacation!

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