A day at the beach is one of the favorite ways families like to spend their vacation or holiday time. However, the beach is a natural environment that may harbor a number of dangers for both children and adults. Make sure your beach time remains a happy time, free of accidents and injuries.
No matter how much experience people have with sunburns, they always seem to forget their own individual tolerance to ultraviolet rays and suffer a painful burn. Never go to the beach without a good supply of sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. Re-apply the sunscreen frequently, even if the label says it will last for hours. Sweat and water will wash off the sunscreen, leaving you vulnerable to severe burns. Children, in particular, should be monitored carefully for sunburn. Apply sunscreen before they leave the house to allow it to penetrate into the skin and re-apply every few hours. Always carry extra clothing. If you are on the beach for a protracted period, cover up little ones with a tee shirt and long pants to prevent painful burns. Use a lidocaine-containing cooling ointment to soothe minor burns after a day on the beach.
Beach time can be so much fun that you can forget the amount of time you’ve been out in the sun. Heatstroke can occur any time you are in high temperatures and are engaged in vigorous physical activity. Signs of heatstroke include high body temperature, lack of sweating, flushed skin, nausea or vomiting, dizziness, rapid heart rate and fainting. If someone in your group suffers these symptoms, immediately get them to a cooler spot. Cool down the body with damp cloths or a fan. If the person is conscious, have them drink water to re-hydrate the body. Take them for medical treatment to prevent further damage to the brain and body organs.
Being at the beach includes water dangers. Ensure that your family knows the rules of safe swimming so that every beach visit is a happy occasion:
• Drowning dangers: Teach all family members to swim as soon as they can understand the instructions. Small children who have not yet learned to swim require constant supervision. Always assign one family member for this task to avoid confusion that leads to unattended children getting into trouble in the water.
• Never dive off rocks or jetties unless you know the depth of the water for certain. Reckless diving can cause neck and spine injuries.
• Heed warnings about riptides. These warnings are often posted in swimming areas. If you are caught in a sudden riptide, swim parallel to the shore until you can break free of the pull of the current. Wave your hands to call attention to yourself to get help from lifeguards or other people on shore.
One of the most common beach injuries is cuts and scrapes on the foot. Many beaches are strewn with rocks or fragments of seashells, many of which have sharp edges that can easily cut the skin. In addition, beachgoers may leave pop tops, bottle caps or broken glasses behind that can be a hazard to walking with bare feet. Wearing aqua shoes or flip-flops whenever walking the beach can help to prevent these injuries. However, your beach bag should also contain a small first-aid kit that contains some Band-Aids, gauze and tape to treat minor foot injuries instead of going to the emergency room. The kit should also contain over-the-counter pain reliever such as aspirin or ibuprofen to relief discomfort from these minor injuries.
Jellyfish are aquatic creatures found in many coastal beach areas. These sea animals have long, trailing tentacles that contain thousands of microscopic barbs when in contact with human skin. The sting generally causes a burning sensation, reddish marks on the skin and itching or throbbing of the area. Some individuals may be sensitive to the toxins and may feel nausea, headache, dizziness, muscle spasms or fainting. In severe reactions, death can result. Anyone that has been stung should be carefully monitored for severe reactions. To treat minor stings, remove any visible tentacles from the skin, rinse the injured area with household vinegar for 30 seconds and soothe the area with calamine lotion or lidocaine sunburn-relieving gel. If you suspect a severe reaction, get medical attention for the victim immediately.