The summer is the perfect time to visit the beach. While beach days are normally fun for the whole family, they can turn sour quickly if beach hazards are present. We’ve gathered a list of the most common and dangerous beach hazards below so you can be prepared this summer.
According to Surf Life Saving Australia, most Australians don't know how to spot a rip.
Signs of a rip can include:
- Deeper, darker coloured water.
- Fewer breaking waves.
- A rippled surface surrounded by smooth water.
- Anything floating out to sea, or foamy, sandy water out beyond the waves.
The waves are the main reason many of us are at the beach in the first place, but they can be one of the shoreline's biggest hazards.
- Dive into waves with your arms in front of your head to avoid head and spinal injuries.
- Always keep young children within arm's reach.
- Don't turn your back on the ocean.
No one wants a sting of any sort, but how worried you should be about a run-in with a jellyfish depends on your latitude.
Stings in the tropics:
- If you don't know for sure what gave the sting, treat with vinegar to neutralise stinging cells.
- If vinegar is not available, pick off remaining tentacles and rinse with seawater.
- Don't rinse with fresh water, as this can cause residual stinging cells to fire.
- A cold pack in a dry plastic bag will help with pain.
- If the patient has more than a localised sting or looks or feels unwell, call triple-0 and ask a lifeguard for help.
- If it's clear the sting came from a bluebottle, treat as below.
Stings outside the tropics:
- Pick off remaining tentacles and rinse well with sea water (not fresh water).
- Don't rub the area.
- Place the stung area in warm water for 20 minutes or use a dry cold pack for pain relief.
- If pain persists or the sting area is large (more than half a limb) or in a sensitive area (like the eye) call triple-0 and ask a lifeguard for help.
Shark attacks are relatively rare, but when they do happen, they attract a lot of attention.
You can minimise your risk of being in the same neighborhood as a shark by avoiding swimming around river outlets, or in dirty water, especially after a storm, as these are often feeding areas for the marine predators.
Avoid a shark attack:
- Don't swim in dirty water or near river mouths, especially after storms.
- Watch out for bait balls or schools of fish, which may attract predators.
- Be wary of low visibility at dusk and dawn.
- Consider using a shark tracker app.
- Keep shark attack risk in perspective: the water itself is a far greater risk.
Know your flags
The safest place to swim is between the red and yellow flags on patrolled beaches. These are places trained lifeguards have identified as being relatively safe and where they are watching for swimmers who may need help.
Lifeguards use other flags to give information about the conditions on the beach:
- Red flag: Beach closed.
- Yellow flag: Swim with caution, potential hazards in the water.
- Black and white quartered flag: Surfcraft exclusion zone to keep surfboards and similar craft out of the swimming area between the red and yellow flags.
The sun is in fact the most dangers thing to watch out for on the beach despite being so warm and relaxing. When you are enjoying a great day beach, make sure that you are being sun safe.
Avoid getting burnt:
- Make sure you are not only covering up with clothing like shirts, hats, sunglasses, rashies ect but also applying sunblock regularly.
- When you swim the sunblock can wash off, so it is important you re-apply to help prevent get burnt or damaging your skin.
- If you do get burnt at the beach make sure you look after your burns with aloe vera spray or gel, moisturiser and cold showers to try and take the heat out of the burn.
- If the burn is causing great deals of pain and is blistering, see you local doctor or medical centre.
For more tips and tricks about beach safety, speak to your local lifeguards.