Tips for a Safe Beach Trip

Life Gaurds
The Red Cross wants you to enjoy your trip and offers some steps you can take to stay safe while at the shore.

The Fourth of July holiday weekend is coming up and many of you will head for the beach for some fun in the sand and surf. The American Red Cross wants you to enjoy your trip and offers some steps you can take to stay safe while at the shore.

BEACH SAFETY If your trip to the shore includes swimming in the ocean, learn how to swim in the surf. Swim only at a lifeguard-protected beach, within the designated swimming area. Obey all instructions and orders from lifeguards. While you’re enjoying the water, keep alert and check the local weather conditions. Make sure you swim sober and that you never swim alone. And even if you’re confident in your swimming skills, make sure you have enough energy to swim back to shore.

Other safety tips include:

  • Do not use a flotation device unless you are able to swim. The only exception is a person wearing a Coast Guard-approved life jacket.
  • Protect your neck – don’t dive headfirst. Check how deep the water is and for any obstructions before diving – go in feet first the first time.
  • Keep a close eye on children and the elderly while at the beach. Wave action can cause someone to lose their footing, even in shallow water.
  • Watch out for aquatic life. Water plants and animals may be dangerous. Avoid patches of plants and leave animals alone.
  • RIP CURRENTS Rip currents are responsible for deaths on our nation’s beaches every year, and for most of the rescues performed by lifeguards. Be aware of the danger of rip currents and remember the following:

  • If you are caught in a rip current, swim parallel to the shore until you are out of the current. Once you are free, turn and swim toward shore. If you can't swim to the shore, float or tread water until you are free of the rip current and then head toward shore.
  • Stay at least 100 feet away from piers and jetties. Permanent rip currents often exist near these structures.
  • SUN PROTECTION Limit the amount of direct sunlight you receive between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., and wear sunscreen with a protection factor of at least 15. Reapply your sunscreen often. Remember to drink plenty of water regularly, even if you’re not thirsty. Avoid drinks with alcohol or caffeine in them. Protect your eyes by wearing sunglasses that will absorb at least 90 percent of UV sunlight. And don’t forget your feet! The sand can burn your feet and glass and other sharp objects can cut them.

    During hot weather, watch for signs of heat stroke—hot, red skin; changes in consciousness; rapid, weak pulse; rapid, shallow breathing. If you suspect someone is suffering from heat stroke:

  • Call 9-1-1 and move the person to a cooler place.
  • Quickly cool the body by applying cool, wet cloths or towels to the skin (or misting it with water) and fanning the person. 
  • Watch for signs of breathing problems and make sure the airway is clear. Keep the person lying down. 
  • FIRST AID APP Another thing people can do is download the free Red Cross first aid app which puts expert advice for everyday emergency at someone’s fingertips. The free app is available for direct download from the Appleor Google Play for Android app stores.

    About the American Red Cross:
    The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.

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