Summer and beach fun are in full swing now. And packing a little beach safety is as equally important as bringing your sunscreen.
There are many hazards at the shore and beachgoers should prepare themselves for things such as rip currents, the powerful sun's rays, sea life and water quality, says Dr. Glenn Hebel, medical director at Newport Hospital's emergency department.
"Understanding the dangers and knowing how best to avoid them will allow you and your family to focus on what is most important at the beach -- having fun," Hebel said.
With hundreds of tidal shoreline in Rhode Island, even swimming in shallow water can be deadly without the proper precautions. Hebel recommends doing some beach research before you head out, including making sure you go to a beach with lifeguards. Know when they are on duty and follow their instructions or warnings," he said.
Hebel added, "Swimming at open ocean beaches means you run the risk of getting caught in rip currents, which can drag swimmers fro the shore at fast speeds."
If you get caught in one, remain calm. Swim parallel to the shoreline, not against it, to free yourself.
Another point, while the air may feel cooler at the shore, the sun's rays are burning down just as strong. It's crucial to wear a sunscreen of at least SPF 30 and reapplied every two hours, he said.
The FDA recommends that sunscreen be water resistant. Infants six months and younger should be kept in the shade.
Below are additional beach safety tips. Additional safety tips can be found at www.newporthospital.org.
-Avoid drinking alcoholic beverages: Drinking dehydrates you, which is not healthy while spending time in direct sunlight. It also impairs your cognitive, bodily functions and swimming ability.
-Know the water quality: Research the quality of the water where you'll be swimming.
- Be smart while using floatation devices: Always use body board or other piece of aquatic equipment with a leash so that you don't lose it and injure other swimmers. Floatation devices should not be used any farther out from the shore than you can swim.
- Keep hydrated: Be sure to replenish your body with plenty of water. Being in direct sunlight for extended periods of time can severely dehydrate the body.
- Wear shoes: The sand is traveled by many people each year, spreading germs and fungi. Wear sandals or beach shoes to protect the soles of your feet from burning, blistering and from sharp objects on the sand.