The beach may be the best place to relax and have some fun, but that doesn't mean you should let your guard down when it comes to beach safety. Foregoing sound safety practices can put a damper on your vacation, or worse, lead to serious injuries or even death. Before you hit the water with your family, refresh yourself and your family on these seven safety tips that could save your life.
Protect yourself from the sun.
This may seem obvious, but it's easy to forget in the midst of the excitement to get to the beach. The ultraviolet rays of the sun are the strongest between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. each day, so try to limit your time in the sun during these hours. Choose a sunblock with an SPF of 30 or more, and be sure to apply sunblock to all exposed skin, including ears, nose and neck, and don't forget sunblock lip balm. It is also a good idea to take sunglasses, brimmed hats and beach umbrellas to the beach with you. If you still get a sunburn, apply an after-sun lotion with aloe, and watch out for sun poisoning.
Drink plenty of water.
Being outside in the sun on a hot day can quickly lead to dehydration if you're not taking in enough water. Dehydration can cause headaches, weakness, dizziness, fainting and much worse if not prevented or corrected quickly. Drink plenty of water (not sugary beverages) before you head outdoors, and always be sure to bring enough water for your whole family.
Wear swimming shoes.
It's a good idea to wear swimming shoes while at the beach, especially for kids. Sea glass, shells and other sharp objects could cut their feet, and swimming shoes will help minimize your chances of a nasty cut ruining your vacation.
Do not dig deep holes or tunnels in the sand.
Every year, people get seriously injured or even killed as a result of holes and collapsed sand-something that is entirely preventable. Simply do not dig deep holes or create tunnels in the sand, and be sure to fill in even small holes before you leave the beach so someone else doesn't trip.
Beware of riptides and currents.
Always keep an eye out for surf alerts and know how to recognize rip currents and other dangerous conditions. If your child is swimming in the ocean, have them wear a life jacket and supervise them at all times. It's also a good idea to have your child take swimming lessons. Riptides and currents can be unexpected and dangerous even for adults, and Lighthouse Beach in Buxton is the only lifeguarded beach on the Island. Familiarize yourself and teach your children what to do in case they do get caught in a riptide: Swim parallel to shore until you get out of the rip current instead of trying to swim directly to shore.
Be mindful of aquatic wildlife.
Hatteras Island and the Outer Banks are amazing places to immerse yourself in nature, and although injuries from wildlife like bites and stings are incredibly rare, it's important to be extra cautious and steer clear of certain species, like jellyfish, Portuguese Men o' War, stingrays and sharks. Always scan the water before jumping in; avoid swimming during low visibility or when the water is murky; avoid areas between islands, near piers or where birds are diving for fish nearby; leave jewelry and other shiny or sparkly things on shore; and shuffle your feet on the sand to alert rays to your presence. Read more about aquatic life safety >
Know your hurricane and evacuation procedures.
No matter where you vacation, knowing what to do and where to go during a natural disaster is essential. On Hatteras Island, hurricane season is officially June through November, but tropical storms and other inclement weather occur all year long. When a hurricane watch is issued, you should begin preparations for possible evacuation. When the probability of a hit to Hatteras Island becomes likely, Dare County will issue a mandatory evacuation, at which point you should pack all belongings, including food, and evacuate immediately off the island to the north. View Outer Beaches Realty's full Hurricane Procedures and Checklist for more helpful information.
For even more helpful tips and tricks, check out our Safety page >