If you are looking for a prime destination for your next summer vacation, then chances are Florida has probably crossed your mind. From its historical locations such as St. Augustine to the elaborate theme parks of Orlando, Florida seems to just scream “summer vacation fun.” But the major reason why millions of people visit the state each year is simple—the pristine beaches that have made the state famous for years. Unfortunately, as with any location, there are also some dangers that can be found that can totally ruin your trip. If you want to make sure that you and your family stay safe on this vacation, be sure to take a look at the following safety tips.
The first thing you need to realize is that swimming in the ocean is a lot different than what you may be used to, like swimming in a pool. Pools don’t have currents, waves, and the ever-dangerous undertow. Because of that, you should follow the following points:
- Use sunscreen. It has been said so often that many people tend to take it for granted: “Wear your sunscreen.” You should apply SPF 15 or higher sunscreen to all of your family members before you head out to the beach. Reapply the sunscreen every two hours and every time you leave the water. Failure to do so could wind up leading you to develop skin cancer/melanoma in the future.
- Be smart when you swim. One of the most basic safety tips is to always make sure that you swim with a partner. If one of you gets into trouble, the other should be able to help or get assistance. If you have small children, never let them swim alone without adult supervision. Also, don’t go for a swim if you have been drinking. Yes, the sun and sand seems to beckon you to cool off with a tropical libation. But alcohol slows your response time and judgment, which can turn a fun day at the beach into a deadly tragedy.
- Only swim if the conditions are right. If the beach is flying a red flag, that means the water conditions are too rough and you need to stay out. If the flag is yellow, then you should probably only go out if you are an experienced swimmer who can handle some rough conditions such as heavy surf. If the flag is green, it’s safe for you to venture out and enjoy the water.
- Make sure that the beach has a lifeguard. Lifeguards or police officers that are trained to look for swimmers in danger patrol many public beaches. Be sure to stick to these beaches in case you get into trouble.
- Be on the lookout for storms. Summer storms in Florida can be swift and brutal, sometimes coming out of nowhere. If it begins storming, exit the water immediately and stay out until at least thirty minutes after you hear the last boom of thunder. Lightning strikes are a very real danger that you should avoid at all costs.
- Be aware of aquatic animals. Florida has some beautiful marine wildlife. But some of them can be dangerous. Look for purple warning flags that signal that a shark has been spotted in the area. Also, look out for stingrays and jellyfish that can cause serious injury. If you are walking along a rocky beach, be sure to wear protective swimming shoes. This will not only help you get better traction on wet rocks, it will also protect you from sharp shells that can cut deeply.
The beach doesn’t have to be a scary place. Florida’s beaches particularly are welcoming for you. However, it is important that you follow the rules and protect yourself and your family whenever you visit for the sun, sand, and surf.
This article updated on May 22, 2017
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