Tips 'n Tricks — August 6, 2014 at 5:00 am

5 Beach Safety Tips You May Not Know About

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Beach season is here, and if you are reading this blog, chances are pretty good that you will have your toes in the sand sometime soon. We want your day at the beach to be as fun and safe as possible, so here are some common beach safety tips that people often overlook.

Sand Bars Aren’t Always Safe
Admittedly, there is something very tempting about a strip of shallow water stretching into open ocean, but beachgoers should be wary: waist deep water isn’t always safe. The ocean is a dynamic force. Constant change is part of the sea’s allure, but it’s also cause for caution. If you or your children are playing on a sandbar, it’s important to understand that sandbars are not permanent features and often disappear with a change in tide or current. Rising tides can eradicate sandbars, and new rip currents can break through narrow strips of sand. Never walk out further than you can swim and swim near a lifeguard if possible.

Don’t Swim Near Piers and Jetties
It’s not a great idea to swim near fixed structures for several reasons. First, in the open ocean, a pier or jetty will almost always create a strong, fixed rip current. So, if you start out swimming near the beginning of the jetty or pier, you may find yourself sucked out to sea. Second, jetties and piers are popular spots for fisherman. Fishing hooks and big fish are both hazardous to your precious appendages, so it’s best to keep some distance.

Most beach communities have ordinances banning swimming near fixed structures, so it’s likely that lifeguards or other authorities will stop you before you even get a chance.

Avoid Steep Holes and Tunnels
Kids love to dig holes in the sand. They always have. They always will. For some reason, unpaid manual labor is super appealing near the coast. There’s nothing wrong with a wide, sloping hole, but deep, narrow holes with steep walls can be dangerous. Always make sure that you dig a hole that’s wider than it is tall, and never, ever try to dig a tunnel. No matter how short the tunnel, or how sturdy the structure seems, sand tunnels are always a bad idea.

Shuffle to Avoid Stings
Several potentially painful bottom feeders like to lurk around on the sand. The most common culprits are crabs and sting rays. Crabs and rays are skittish creatures and will always prefer to flee rather than attack. If you are walking around in the ocean, shuffle your feet to avoid pinches and stings. By shuffling, you give sea creatures ample warning about your presence and give them time to get away.

Don’t Swim Near the Surfers
If you notice a sandbar with lots of surfers, it’s not the best place to swim. It may seem like there is safety in numbers, but mixing surfers and swimmers is a recipe for disaster. It’s okay to wade adjacent to a group of surfers if you are not near the breaking waves, but if you notice that surfers have to constantly change their path to avoid a collision, you’re in the way.

The inverse of this is true for surfers as well. In the summer months especially, it’s poor form to paddle out to a peak with a large crowd of waders.

Reapply Sunscreen
This may seem like the most obvious tip on the list, but its often overlooked. Consider this: SPF barely matters. SPF 15, 30, and 45 all do essentially the same thing. If you really want to avoid harmful burns, apply sunscreen at least 15 minutes before you step into the sun, and reapply frequently. It is especially important to reapply after you swim.

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