In the Triangle, summer means trips to the beach! Nothing ruins a vacation like a trip to the emergency department. Stay safe with these 7 beach safety tips:
Beach Safety Tips
- Beware of rip currents. A rip current is water flowing away from the shore. The water flow can be up to 8 feet per second, faster than an Olympic swimmer! Avoid them. But if you get stuck, relax, then swim parallel to shore. Here is more information about rip currents and here is a handy chart.
- Understand beach warning flags. Lifeguards watch most of our area beaches during peak season, and they will post warning flags. A red flag means the water is hazardous and only strong swimmers should go in. Two red flags indicate swimming is prohibited. A yellow flag means use caution; there are dangerous currents and undertows. A green flag means all clear. Some beaches use blue and purple flags to warn of sharks or jellyfish.
- Part of beach safety includes keeping an eye out for sharks. Sharks aren’t always a problem in North Carolina, but we do see them off the coast sometimes. National Shark Week is in July, and it’s not just time to binge watch the Discovery channel. Keep safe by monitoring the beach warning flags. If all is clear, try to swim in a group, don’t stray too far from shore. You can also lower your risk by not swimming at night, dawn, or dusk. Don’t enter the water if you are bleeding and don’t wear shiny jewelry.
- Seek shelter during storms. Summer storms can be exciting but may come with damaging winds, hail, and lightning. According to the National Weather Service, most lightning deaths occur during leisure activities such as boating, camping, fishing, and bicycle riding. While it’s inconvenient to stop what you are doing and seek shelter, especially if you are out on a lake, it’s important to do so.
- Protect your skin from the sun. Sunburn isn’t just uncomfortable; on average, a person’s risk for melanoma doubles if he or she has had more than five sunburns. Wear hats and sunscreen of at least SPF 30 when you are out. Reapply sunscreen after swimming or sweating and every hour. At the beach, plant an umbrella or tent so you can take breaks in the shade. Keep in mind tents will not block all the sun’s rays though, so you’ll still need to reapply sunscreen.
- Avoid food poisoning. Food on the beach will get warm quickly. Temperatures between 40 degrees and 140 degrees is known as the “danger zone” for cooked food. At those temperatures, food can only be left out for two hours. But if it’s a hot day, say 90 degrees, you only get one hour. Prevent bacteria from forming by putting things back in the cooler when you are done.
- Stay hydrated. While many people enjoy alcohol at the beach, the combined heat and sun will dehydrate your body faster. Plus, alcohol can make your skin more sensitive to light, which means a higher risk of sunburn. Experts recommend drinking 8 ounces of water after every alcoholic beverage.
Our team at Generations Family Practice hopes you have a happy, safe summer and practice these beach safety tips on your next vacation!