National Beach Safety Week: Know your beach hazards ahead of holiday weekend

From jellyfish to heat stroke: How to prevent a spoiled day at the beach

By Samara Cokinos - Meteorologist

Memorial Day is right around the corner. With several dry days in the 90s ahead, many people will flock to area beaches to beat the heat. 
This week is National Beach Safety Week. The U.S. Lifesaving Association aims to keep beachgoers aware of the hazards anyone can experience and most importantly what to do in the event of an emergency. 

Rip current risks
Moderate to high rip current risks will be present all week long along at area beaches. First things first, locate a lifeguard tower and stay close by. All the rip current information will be posted at that tower. There will also be flags flying to indicate the rip current risk among other hazards. Be sure to take a look at them and know what they mean.

Staying within range of a staffed lifeguard tower will give swimmers a better chance at survival when being swept out in the current. This is especially important as more and more people flock to the beach and to the water to cool off. It makes it easier for the lifeguard to see and hear your distress calls.
There are a couple of things to note when the rip current risk is high. The water doesn't always look dangerous, but it's what's beneath that is the unseen danger. If a swimmer gets caught in the narrow channel of water, do not try to fight the current. Swimmers, not matter how strong or experienced, won't win against a lot of water that's moving up to 8 feet per second. 

The best thing to do is swim parallel to the shore. This will take the swimmer out of the rip current channel. If they cannot do this, then the next best thing is to tread water and signal for help.

Jellyfish are ninjas of the ocean that have their own purple flag at the lifeguard tower. Beachgoers should never touch the pretty creature, but things happen, and here's what to do.

If the jellyfish sting happens in the water, get out. There could be more lurking around that are not easily seen. Washing the sting site with sea water is just as bad as peeing on it. Please don't so either of these. Urinating on the sting zone will actually cause the stingers to release more venom. Vinegar is the best remedy and more than likely that's not in the beach bag. Again, this is where being close to a lifeguard tower comes in handy. They have everything to help ease the pain, or it's just a radio call away.

Also, knowing the local wildlife that live in and out of the water is just a good idea. Florida beaches do have sharks. Pay attention, people. 

Shade is key to preventing heat stroke
Throw some shade, or prop it up in this case. Carrying an umbrella or tent will give your body a break from the heat and direct sunshine. Not only will this help keep the sunburn away, but it can help prevent more serious heat-related illnesses like heat stroke, heat exhaustion, sun poisoning, and dehydration. Knowing the symptoms of these illnesses is a good idea, too. Things like nausea, excessive or lack of sweating, muscle cramps and weakness are a few.
Protect the body

Not just eyes with sunglasses, but we're talking about feet. The sand between the toes feeling might be a delight, but as the day goes on it gets scorching hot. If the sand gets hot enough it can cause severe burns to the feet.

Stay hydrated

Sure a cocktail or brewski is expected for some, but having more water or drinks with electrolytes to refuel the body is the best way to prevent dehydration or worse. 

Watch the weather
My favorite part about beach safety is knowing the weather. It's simple. Watch the weather.

We have our handy free News 6 mobile weather app that can do all that in just a few clicks, just search News 6 in your app store.

While at the beach, keep an eye on changing conditions if storms are expected. That way you won't find yourself fleeing the beach in squishy sand with strong winds and lightning won't ruin the entire experience. 
Hopefully these six tips will help beachgoers stay safe this week, and all weeks of the upcoming summer.

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