Beaches are amazing places to take vacations. They can be a haven of warm, pleasant sunshine and surf far away from it all, a place to have a blast trying out new water sports, or a source of whimsy and adventure for kids. However, like other places where you interact directly with powerful forces of nature, beaches do have their dangers.
Keep the following advice in mind to stay safe at the beach:
– Trust in lifeguards, but stay alert. Beaches with lifeguards are a safer bet than those without them, and you should always obey the lifeguards’ instructions. You shouldn’t rely solely on lifeguards to keep you safe, though. Keep an eye on the weather and use a buddy system to make sure you can always keep track of everyone in your party.
– Look for warnings. Most beaches use a system of flags to indicate whether or not the water is dangerous on a given day. Different colors and patterns mean different things in different places, so look for a sign at the beach explaining the warnings and then heed the flags.
– Watch out for rip tides. Rip tides, properly called rip currents and sometimes called undertows, are places where water moves rapidly away from the shore. A swimmer caught in one has little chance of overpowering it. Stay out of the water if there’s a rip tide, and if you do find yourself caught in one, remain calm and swim parallel to shore. Rip tides can be so powerful that even an Olympic swimmer wouldn’t be able to make headway against them, but they’re also usually narrow. If you feel yourself being pulled away from the beach, swim to one side until you stop feeling that pull and then work your way back to shore.
– Be cautious around waves. Playing in the surf can be a lot of fun, but waves can be deceptively powerful, causing injuries ranging from sprains to broken bones. Stay safe by checking with a lifeguard about surf conditions.