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“For many people, summertime means fun days at the beach, whether enjoying Long Island’s shoreline or traveling to a beach vacation,” said Jasmin James, DO, Catholic Health Primary Care Physician. “To ensure your beach time is safe and healthy, keep in mind a few tips when packing your beach bag and while you are at the beach enjoying the sun and water.”

Tips to stay safe in the water

Swimming in a body of water such as an ocean, lake or river differs from swimming in a pool. There are currents, rip tides, marine life and uneven floors to contend with that are not a threat in the controlled environment of a pool. Use these tips to stay safe near and in the water.
  • Always swim in areas with a lifeguard on duty. If your beach has designated swim areas, do not swim outside or beyond those areas. 
  • Be mindful of weather and water conditions. If lightning and thunder are forecast or seen, get out of the water and go indoors.
  • Do not swim alone, even if you are an experienced swimmer with advanced skills.
  • Enter shallow water feet first. Do not dive unless the water is at least 9 feet deep and is marked as safe for diving. Never dive head-first into the surf.
  • Remember each body of water is different. Look for any posted warning signs at the beach, like water conditions, riptides, strong currents, high surf, slippery rocks and dangerous sea life in the area.
  • Know your limits and respect your fitness and swimming capabilities.
“Stay vigilant whenever you are near or in the water,” said Dr. James. “If you or your children do not know how to swim, you should avoid going into the water, especially unsupervised. Consider swimming lessons to make the most of your beach days safely.”
Water activities
If you are not experienced, avoid high-risk water activities like jet skiing, water gliding or snorkeling, which can lead to injuries. Even if you are experienced, ensure you ask questions of the person supervising the activity, review safety protocols and have the proper equipment.

Tips to pack your beach bag

“Packing for the beach can be overwhelming; from beach gear to books and snacks, you can pack too much and overlook necessities,” said Dr. James. “Keeping a bag with essentials ensures you have what is needed to keep you healthy and safe.”
Be sure to pack the following:
  • First-aid kit. A simple kit should include all the basics, such as insect repellent, bug bite sticks, bandages and antibiotic ointment. Also, pack your EpiPen if you have an allergy, like bee stings. 
  • Life jackets. If you plan to spend time in the water, wear a life jacket when you are on a boat or in the waves. Choose a life jacket approved by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) or U.S. Coast Guard. 
  • Eyewear and goggles. Wear sunglasses that protect against ultraviolet (UV) light. Goggles can prevent water from irritating your eyes and sand from getting in them.
  • Sunscreen. Choose a broad-spectrum SPF 30 or higher sunscreen and reapply it often throughout the day, even if the sunscreen is labeled as sweat-proof.
  • Sun-proof outerwear. Do not depend on sunscreen to completely shield you from the sun’s harmful rays. Use protective outerwear like long-sleeve shirts, rash guard swimwear and a hat to protect yourself well.
  • Water. Pack plenty of water to drink throughout the day and stay hydrated all day to avoid heat illnesses. Keep the water out of the sun.

Find Care at Catholic Health

Find a Catholic Health doctor near you. Or call 866-MY-LI-DOC (866-695-4362).

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