The beach is a magical place. When winter retreats, the sunshine pours from the heavens and our skin craves some salt and sand- it’s undoubtedly one of the best places to be to unwind and live it up. But alas, while there is so much seaside amazingness going on, let’s not forget that it can be dangerous as well. Have fun this summer but keep it safe with these 6 beachside hazards to avoid.
We all know this one, but sun protection goes beyond just slathering on spf 8 tanning oil one time and thinking you’re invincible. Underestimate that giant boiling ball of fire in the sky and it will eat you alive. Apply at least SPF 30 sunblock all over your body and face and don a hat and sunglasses to protect yourself from those harmful rays.
If you are going to be at the beach all day long and plan to swim, keep reapplying every few hours. Also make sure to constantly hydrate, because while you’re having a blast, dehydration occurs quickly without you even realizing it.
Man o’ War
These hypnotizing creatures seem harmless and even kinda cute, but don’t be fooled. Play around with this guy and you will experience an excruciating pain unlike any other. Man o’ war commonly wash up on the beach and float on top of the water.
They are easy to distinguish by their bright blue color and balloon-like shape, flanked by long, stringy tentacles that when touched, will sting the hell out of you. If you think a jellyfish sting is bad…this is 10x worse and can last for days. Avoid them at all costs and DO NOT TOUCH.
While they’re incredibly dangerous, they’re also pretty cool… from a distance: http://www.phactual.com/11-things-that-make-jellyfish-undeniably-cool/
Let me introduce you to a microscopic free roaming organism that will bite the hell out of you, leaving you with itchy bumps and rashes that last for days. Sea lice are like the mosquitos of the ocean, but you can’t see them and you don’t know what kind of damage is done until you wake up the next day and you are covered in bumps. Even worse, they bite where they become trapped- such as bathing suits….yea, let that one sink in for a minute.
Protect yourself with lotions that are available to combat the microscopic beasts and shower off with fresh water after a day at the beach. If you do get bit, remedies such as applying vinegar or cortisone cream help with relief.
When I was a lifeguard it seemed as if families would set up right where the rip currents were, and the kids would beeline it for the most dangerous part of the water’s edge. Not really their fault, they didn’t know—but with small children, this is crucial to be aware of. Rip currents form at breaks in sandbars and also near structures such as jetties and piers. Look for a channel of churning water that may be muddy or have a different water color.
With strong currents smashing into each other, going every which way, they will grab you and pull you out to sea. This isn’t the main issue though. If caught, a swimmer can longer move against the current, it tends to result in panic, wasting vital energy and oxygen. Let the current take you, and stay as calm as possible. Begin to swim on your side parallel to the shore. You will make it out and will be able to swim back to land.
Stingrays like to burrow under the sand in shallow water, making it difficult to see them until you happen to step in the wrong place and BAM—hello razor sharp poisonous barb in your ankle. The poison produced from a stingray is known to be just down right unbearable, and if not treated, can result in loss of limbs or even death.
When traversing at a beach known for stingrays, you can take precaution by doing the stingray shuffle. If you do get hit, immerse the affected body part in hot water (if available) and immediately get to a hospital.
And the Most Dangerous of Them All…
Humans. Whether it be leaving trash strewn about the sand or in the water, bothering wildlife for amusement, or wreaking havoc on the native vegetation, humans take the cake for most dangerous thang at the beach. When playing seaside, sure, watch out for dangerous critters, but remember that the beach is their home and we are the intruders—not them.
Also, we sometimes take this beautiful paradise for granted. Remember that it is a precious and fragile ecosystem, and may not be here forever if we don’t do our part to keep it looking beautiful.