Beach Bound? Here's What You Need to Know
June 26, 2017 at midnight
It just wouldn’t be summer without heading for the beach, and if you call Texas home, you don’t have to travel far to find one. The Lone Star State boasts 367 miles of coastline.
However, along with surf, sun and tons of fun, the beach also presents a potential for danger. That said, you don't need to be fearful; you simply need to be aware of possible hazards and know what to do if you should encounter one.
Safe in the Sun
Soaking up too much of those golden rays can cause everything from sunburn to heatstroke to skin cancer. Start with a water-resistant, broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or greater. Make sure you reapply it as directed; even waterproof lotion wears off over time.
Drink plenty of water, spend time in the shade and watch for signs of overexposure. Seek medical treatment if anyone in your group experiences continued vomiting, rapid pulse, fever, or unconsciousness.
Bacteria That Bites
Vibrio vulnificus is a bacteria that lives in coastal waters. Contact with the organism can cause severe infection of open wounds. It is especially precarious for someone whose immune system is compromised.
Since V. vulnificus is present in higher concentrations when the water is warmer, summer swimmers are more likely to encounter this so-called flesh-eating bacteria. The CDC recommends avoiding the gulf waters if you have open wounds –including cuts or scrapes—unless you securely cover them with waterproof bandages.
Rough Waters Ahead
The gulf waters present perils such as undertows, riptides and rocks. Only strong swimmers should attempt plunging into the waters and even then, precautions are prudent.
Stick to the area near a lifeguard and check with these experts for any possible dangers. Always use the buddy system and steer clear of visible rocks.
Careful for Creatures
Encountering aquatic animals in their natural habitats can be exciting, but also deadly. The National Ocean Service advises avoiding the five following sea creatures whenever possible:
- Sea urchins
Look for posted signs warning of hazardous marine life. Stay away from any unfamiliar creatures, even if they appear to be dead.
Watch the Weather
Mother Nature can be a wonderful playmate when she provides a sunny day and clear waters. Her moods can change quickly, though, so pay attention to changes in the forecast and warnings posted on the shoreline.
Flags on the beach will notify you of cautionary weather such as potential hurricanes, which tend to occur during late summer and early fall. In addition, if you hear thunder or see lightning, get out of the water and head for cover.
First Aid Fundamentals
Accidents can happen to even the most careful of beachgoers. Being prepared can keep minor injuries or illnesses from ruining the day.
Pack a first aid kit containing alcohol free wipes and bandages for cuts or scrapes with sand or glass in them; Calamine lotion for stings, bites or rashes; instant cold packs for bumps, bruises or sprains; butterfly bandages for deeper wounds, and ointments such as hydrocortisone and antibiotic cream.
When thinking about a Texas beach getaway, there are risks to consider, but they should never prevent you from heading to the coast with your family or friends. With thoughtful planning and attentive observation, your days at the beach can be a blast.