Summer Safety Tips and Tricks
During the popular summer months on South Padre Island, hundreds of beachgoers enjoy the sun and surf safely. The beaches are clean of debris and the waters surrounding the Island are generally calm and relatively shallow. These conditions make it easy to stay safe and have a fun time.
There are a few safety tips that you can practice to keep the good times rolling. Here’s how to stay safe during your island escape.
The sea should always be respected. You can swim and play in the waters safely, especially if you follow a few simple guidelines. Always pay attention to signs and warning flags. There are signs that describe what each flag means. You can also ask any lifeguards.
Only enter the water if you know how to swim. Anyone who doesn’t know how to swim should wear a life jacket any time they’re in the water, even if there are good swimmers around them. Other flotation devices, such as inner tubes, are not substitutes for lifejackets.
Don’t enter the water if you are inebriated. It’s also a good idea to swim with a buddy.
Rip currents can happen in any large open water area, even relatively shallow areas such as sand bars. Here’s what the American Red Cross recommends to do if caught in a rip current:
Stay calm. Don’t fight the current. Swim parallel to the beach until you are out of the current, then swim back to the beach. If you’re not a strong swimmer and you’re caught in a rip current, float and tread water until you are out of the current and then swim back to the beach. If you can, get someone’s attention by waving your arms. Do not try to rescue someone caught in a rip current. Throw them something that floats and alert a life guard. Call 911 if no lifeguard is available.
Fun in the Sun
The weather on South Padre Island is full of sunny warm days. We all love playing out in the sun, but it’s easy to overdo it. Remember to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays. The best protection from the sun is shade. Try to have a shady place to periodically rest under. Use sunblock, even if it doesn’t feel hot out, and protect your eyes with eyewear that blocks UV rays.
Have plenty of clean drinking water available and drink often to stay hydrated. The combination of sun and salty water can quickly be dehydrating. Be careful about sugary sports drink and yummy seaside cocktails. You should always drink in moderation and drink mostly water.
Respect sea life. Don’t approach animals, even if they’re “cute” such as dolphins and sea turtles. Jellyfish stings are rare but can happen. Pay attention to signs and warning flags. The Smithsonian says to follow these three simple steps in the case of a jellyfish sting:
1. Douse the affected area with vinegar. Do this before trying to remove any stingers as vinegar deactivates the stinging cells.
2. Remove any remaining tentacles with stingers. Don’t scrub or scrape the area as this can reactivate stinging cells.
3. Apply heat. Heat destroys the venom. Hot water works well. Cold can temporarily numb the area, but heat works better to destroy the jellyfish venom.
Most jellyfish stings are minor, however, if the affected person has any unusual or alarming symptoms, call 911 immediately.
Stingray stings are another concern. Stingrays are usually calm, however, if stepped on, stingrays will protect themselves with their barbed stinger. You can avoid stepping on a stingray by shuffling your feet in shallow water.
According to National Geographic, if a sting occurs in the feet or legs, gently remove the barb and treat the area with hot water. Hot water breaks down the toxins in stingray stings and reduces pain. Most stingray stings are minor, however, if the affected person has any unusual or alarming symptoms, or the sting somehow occurred in the chest or gut, call 911 immediately and follow their directions.
Practicing beach safety on South Padre Island is easy. Respect the sea and sun and you’re well on your way to enjoying a relaxing (and safe!) vacation.