July 22, 2019
When the weather gets hotter and the days get longer, there’s no better place to spend a sun-soaked day than on the sand with the surf at your toes. Whether visiting one of the 44 different beaches in nearby New Jersey or trekking to a more exotic coast, a day on the beach offers an opportunity to unwind and relax—as long as you’re prepared with everything you’ll need for a safe, healthy day at the shore.
Here are a few tips to keep you and your family having fun in the sun:
While it might be tempting to crack a few beers with your feet deep in the sand, make sure you have plenty of water, electrolyte-heavy sports drinks, or even popsicles in the cooler, too. The human body is 60% water, and losing even 1.5% of that can cause mild dehydration, marked by thirst, weakness, mild headaches, dry skin, and a decreased need to urinate.
Those who do choose to imbibe should make sure to alternate their drinks with something non-alcoholic, and steer clear of water activities—alcohol use is involved in up to 70% of adolescent and adult deaths associated with water recreation according to the CDC.
Trying to get rid of that farmer’s tan? Make sure you’re soaking up the sun in a healthy way: with lots and lots of sunscreen, applied the right way —early, often, and generously. Excessive, unprotected sun exposure can lead to skin cancer, including melanoma. It’s the most dangerous form of skin cancer, with an estimated 192,310 cases in 2019. Choosing a broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher will provide adequate protection from the most harmful rays.
No one wants to spend a stormy day on the shore, but even the calm before or after a storm can come with hazards. Keep from stepping seaside if the forecast calls for lightning, and be sure to wait at least 30 minutes after the last crash of thunder before loading up the towels and umbrella. After larger storms or hurricanes, keep an eye out for warnings of contaminated water or dangerous debris in order to avoid getting sick or injured.
Drinking plenty of water and keeping the sunscreen flowing are great ways to protect your body from skin damage and dehydration, but having a place to hide out from the heat and the sun for a bit can further combat heat exhaustion, heat stroke, and sun poisoning, which can cause dizziness, headaches, and even a fever. Packing a beach umbrella or tent and a large sun hat and some dark clothing to cover up can provide some much-needed respite from the sun’s rays.
Taking a dip in the ocean is a great way to cool down and get your blood pumping after lounging around all day, but it’s important to keep alert and aware of the hazards that come with beachside swimming. First and foremost, try to pick a spot close to a lifeguard, and brush up on what the different colored beach warning flags signal.
Also keep an eye out for the warning signs of a rip current, a strong channel of quickly moving water that extends out into the ocean. Avoid any choppy, off-colored water you see moving from the shore, and if you do get caught in a rip current, swim parallel to the shore to escape the current—trying to swim against the current will only risk fatigue and further increase your chances of drowning.
A day at the beach is the perfect way to unwind and spend some quality time with family and friends. Follow these five simple tips and you’ll enjoy safe fun in the sun all summer long!