photo credit: Debra Pamplin

Summer has arrived and the beach scene is in full swing! Locals and visitors alike are swarming to the local beaches, and there is plenty of fun to be had. Like any other fun activity, there are some down sides that we need to be aware and of and prepared for. This article will outline some safety tips to keep yourself and others safe during trips to the beach.

Just like ‘black ice’ on a road in winter, rip currents are difficult to spot. According to the Coast Guard’s official blog, a rip current is a narrow stream of water moving swiftly away from shore, often perpendicular to shore. These fast-moving water can easily pull swimmers away from the shore. If you find yourself caught up in a rip current, the first thing to do is remain calm.  Never try to swim against the current, but swim parallel to the shore line until you are no longer caught in the rip current.

While a rip current doesn’t automatically jump out to the untrained eye, the Coast Guard’s blog shares a description of what one looks like. A section of swirling or choppy water, or a strong variation in the water’s color is a visual cue.

Rip currents have no rhyme or reason in regards to when they will be present. Sunny, calm days are just as likely to see rip currents are cloudy and windier days.

In addition to looking for the dangerous condition, checking the beach’s condition before you leave, or with a lifeguard upon arrival is also recommended. Many beaches have flags placed for dangerous water conditions.

Speaking of flags, there are five different colored flags and their meanings:

Possible flags swimmers may see at the beach. NOAA image.
Photo credit: http://coastguard.dodlive.mil/2013/06/rip-tips/

Swimmers in Need of help

Thanks to Hollywood movies, many of us probably think a person who is drowning will be thrashing about, waving their arms and yelling towards the shore for help. Actually, the opposite can be true for those having trouble in the water. It isn’t unlikely for a drowning victim to be still and quiet.

Warning signs to watch for include:

  • Head low in the water, mouth at water level
  • Head tilted back with mouth open
  • Eyes glassy and empty, unable to focus
  • Eyes closed
  • Hair over forehead or eyes
  • Not using legs—vertical in water
  • Hyperventilating or gasping

Other precautions include keeping children within arm’s reach while in the water, swimming near the lifeguard stands and staying hydrated.

Now that we have covered the precautions, its time to read up on some beach hacks. These tips might just make the beach trips even more fun and easy.

  • Use Baby Powder on dry skin to remove sand
  • Use resealable ziploc baggies as weights-fill baggies with sand, use them to keep towels in place by placing one on each corner. Empty the sand when leaving, and save the baggies for next trip!
  • A pop-up clothes hamper is ideal for storing beach toys in. When ready to leave, place the toy-filled hamper into the water, easily rinsing sand off of everything! This will serve as an ideal storage for toys as well.
  • Bring along a gallon or two of water, and use for rinsing feet before entering the vehicle.
  • Use an empty diaper wipe container or in a diaper for storing valuables such as cell phones, cash or keys. Chances are, diaper wipe containers will be overlooked by thieves.
  • Unless you have a waterproof phone case, drops of water are a real hazard to cell phones. Protect your phone from drips and splatters by placing it in a sandwich baggie.
  • Forget the ice-save space in coolers by omitting ice. The night before a beach outing, freeze half of the water bottles you plan to take. This will free up space in your cooler and is a great alternative to purchasing bags of ice.

So, hopefully this article has left you better prepared for an upcoming beach outing. Don’t forget the sunscreen!

 

 

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