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Beach Safety Tips

Beware of Rip Tides!

 

Many of us in the Caribbean have seen the signs if a Rip Tide but didn’t even realized what was going on in the water. Other in the world come to visit and if they had never ever taken a course on this phenomenon they would simply swim into it inadvertently.

A Rip Tide is a strong current of water moving seaward from near the shore. You might find it usually near the surf in areas that have obstructions like sandbars or reefs. Waves push water over these obstructions but then the same mass of water funnels out since it cannot return to sea through the bottom.  These currents can move hundreds of feet a day along a shoreline and are not limited to oceans and seas. Large lakes may have this events occurring as well. Rip currents tend to be strong, carrying a person away from shore very quickly.  Some of the common signs that may warn you about this dangerous situation are:

  1. A line of turbid water flowing seaward.
  2. Foamy water moving away from the shore.
  3. Wave disruptions where the water rushes to sea.
Rip tide image

Try to avoid these currents if possible. Most people try to swim against these phenomena but usually, if you are not Michael Phelps, you will become exhausted and drown. Currents may move you on average from 2 feet per second to 8 feet per second. If you get trapped in this situation remember:

 

  1. Float and conserve your energy. (signal others if professional rescue is available or boats nearby) Don’t make another regular Joe come to you. The problem might become larger.
  2. Swim Parallel to the shore.
  3. Head towards the shore on another area (make sure is safe)
  4. Most important thing is to keep your cool.

 

Make your trip to the beach a safe one. You don’t want to make the headlines on the news… Right?!




Human Hazard on the Beach!

 

Many in the Caribbean have seen people become more dangerous to others than sharks. From inexperienced people using PWC’s (Personal Water Crafts), reckless boat operators to just drunk and stupid operators they all represent a major hazard to others. I have seen people driving boats at high speeds through divers flags and young people doing tricks to impress ladies near the shore where others are either bathing or snorkeling despite of the proximity to these people.

Some islands have strict law and some don’t. Regardless of the type of law enforced on a region common sense is never out of style. If you are operating a watercraft please keep in mind that other people’s lives are in your hands when you don’t exercise caution. Divers Flags and Alpha Flags mean that divers are in the water and as a diver I can assure you that some times divers have to ascend due to unforeseen situations or just because the air is running out and they won’t see you in time to avoid you if you are speeding through. You must slow down when you find these flags and any time people are near you or if you suspect someone is in the water. Some times snorkeling people do free dives and they might surface in front of you. Different form scuba divers, most people snorkeling do not have flags to let others know where they are and in many instances people go alone.

 

Being responsible does not make you less cool. As a matter of fact being reckless just shows a level of immaturity that others may see miles away. The US. Coast Guard has a set of laws meant to prevent accidents. If your country doesn’t have any rules regarding the operation of boats or PWC’s you might use this rules to avoid getting on a serious accident. As a rule of thumb boats should stay at least 30-60 meters or 100-200 feet away from diver’s flags and when possible form people at the shore. If you must get close or within this safety area please slow down your speed to a minimum operating speed and be ready to cut engines off if necessary. Keep an eye open for people in the water and other boater.

If you see a reckless operator contact the local authorities when possible. If you are one of these individuals please consider the lives of others and make the right choice. Nobody wants to have a bad day at the beach.




Got Sunburned in the Shade?

 

I am not going to tell you what a sunburn is. You probably have had at least one of those in your life. What you probably have a hard time understanding is how can you get a sunburn in the shade or even under water. First lets talk about radiation. Yes Radiation… Anything that emits energy just like a nuclear bomb, generates radiation. Believe it or not even the light bulb that you have in your room and this screen you are looking at is giving up radiation. The trick is to control how much of it you receive during a year and your life. There are different types of radiation. Some will penetrate your skin and some won’t. Sunlight has three types of ray; visible, ultraviolet (UV) and infrared. All of them a type of radiation.

We all have heard of the UV rays but many believe that as long as you are not in direct contact with sunlight you are safe. Divers are warned during their Open Water Course that UV rays do penetrate water and that water acts like a magnifying glass. This is one of the reasons most divers wear full body wetsuits. On the other hand people that do snorkeling tend do not use protective clothing and are more prone to become sunburned. If you look at sand closely you will notice that sand is a crystal like granules composed of many minerals. The key word here is crystal. Light bounces of sand and UV rays do too. Although it might be in a lower level you must remember that since it is radiation the time of exposure is very influential even in the shade. This is why you should use sunscreen lotion even if you are just watching the ladies, guys or kids form the comfortable shade of a palm tree. The lighter the color of the sand, the more reflective is going to be.

Lina Tanning 

Keep in mind that:

  1. There is no such thing as a healthy tan. Unprotected sun exposure causes premature aging of the skin.
  2. Extended exposure can cause first degree (red skin that feels hot) and second degree (Ouch! type) burns. Non-of them are good.
  3. The more unprotected exposure you get during your young years the higher the probability of getting Skin Cancer or Skin problems during the adulthood.
  4. Infants and children are more sensitive to sunburns.
  5. People with darker skin can withstand more exposure than fair skin people.
  6. Sun hits harder in the Caribbean. Also the higher the altitude the more intense is the exposure. Avoid exposure between the hours of 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM.
  7. You must reapply your sunscreen often to get protected throughout the day.

Bottom line: you are being cooked every day by radiation. If you protect yourself not even the sneaky reflected UV rays will ruin your day after the beach trip. Trust me! Even if you use a strong sunscreen lotion you will get a nice tan and the shade is no cover from UV rays.




Jewlery or no jewlery in the water? 

Although most ladies want to look luxurious and attractive at the beach, using jewlery may be a problem. Some of the reasons why we should limit the use of jewlery at the beach include:

1) Jewlery is easy to loose at the mercy of a surf and sand. No wonder there are people walking with metal detectors at the beach.

2) You may be attracting too much attention to yourself. When you get in the water you may decide to leave your personal effects in the sand while you have some fun in the water. This is the perfect time for someone to walk by and do some shoppiong with the five finger discount.

3) Jewlery deterioration is common in salt water. If your jewlery is not made of a rust proof metal you might damage it. Most pieces are made of different components and metals.If you don't rinse your jewlery with fresh water afterward it might corrode causing in some instances infections.

4) Some fishes are attracted to shinny things. Barracudas for example are not interested in humans but they love sardines. Shinny loose objects are often confused for a possible meal and then comes the bite. Earings are very similar to some small fishes and these could trigger an attack by misidentification.

In general some jewlery at the beach is OK but too much is not a wise idea. Shinny long earings in water is a problem in the making and they might get you an encounter you don't want. People that dive and surf hide their chains in their rashguards or wetsuits. Watches are rearely a problem but then again there are reasons why water sport watches are made of plastic, titanium, stainless steel and they use bright color such as neon colors, yellow, orange or just dark colors. There are optiions that are cheap and practical for jewlery at the beach. Just ask your local Surf Shop and they might brong more insight on the latest trends for beach jewlery.