Beach Safety: Top Dangers To Consider

The open ocean and surrounding beaches are beautiful and charming places, but they are also hazardous. While the potential for personal harm is almost innumerable in the ocean and along the beach, there are a few very common dangers to look out for this summer during your outings to the shore. These dangers involve both open water and other external risks from being on a beach in general. When preparing for your next trip to the beach this summer, be sure to consider these risks and take the appropriate measure to avoid or mitigate these dangers.

Rip Tides

These are one of the most significant risks at the beach and regularly account for over 80 percent of the rescues performed at beaches across the U.S. Rip tides are powerful currents of water flowing away from shore that extend from the shoreline, through the surf zone, and past breaking waves. These strong currents aren’t readily visible along the surface of the water, but can quickly pull swimmers out to sea.

Rip Tides

While a trip to the beach would seem incomplete without getting into the water, recognize the dangers of rip currents and know what to do if you are caught in one. Be aware of the strength of the water, be careful how far out you venture, and if you are pulled out to sea, do not fight the current. Instead, swim parallel to the shore–gradually making your way back to shore at an angle. Drownings often occur because people exhaust themselves while fighting the pull of rip currents.

Thunderstorms

Storms are a more obvious risk associated with the beach, as powerful storms easily form over water. Still, thunderstorms are often an overlooked danger to beach-goers. The proximity to water and the exposure can be a dangerous combination if a storm rolls in and lightning occurs. If a thunderstorm is eminent and you are on the beach, get indoors.

Thunderstorms

The beach is one of the worst places to be during a storm and the risk of being struck by lightning substantially increases in such an exposed location. You should get away from the water and off the beach and into an enclosed building or hard-topped vehicle. Once the thunderstorm has passed, it is a good idea to wait at least 30 minutes before returning to the beach.

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Sunburns & Heat Exhaustion

These are probably the two most well understood risks about going to the beach, yet these things are still the most common dangers presented to the average beach-goer. Exposure to strong UV rays over a sustained period of time increases your risk of skin cancer and puts you in a vulnerable position for heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

If you are spending time in direct sun on the beach, make sure to wear a high UV protective sunblock, take breaks in the shade frequently, and take care when exerting yourself in high temperatures. Signs of heat exhaustion include: cold, clammy skin, chills, fever, and headaches.

Sunburns & Heat Exhaustion

If you experience these, get out of the sun, drink water, and seek medical attention if symptoms continue or worsen. As always, be sure to drink plenty of fluids throughout the day. Dehydration can set in quickly in heat and direct sun, so do your best to stay safely hydrated and protected from the sun’s rays.