The beach is undoubtedly a great place to have fun with friends and family. But the sun, the sand, and the surf can pose some dangers if you don’t take steps to protect yourself properly. We’ve compiled a list of some of the most common beach injuries many walk in clinics and emergency departments see and how to prevent these incidents from happening to you.
- Sports injuries
A sports injury can occur just about anywhere. But on the beach, the uneven terrain can result in an injury you might not otherwise have to deal with. An estimated 63% of volleyball injuries are related to jumping, and if you land incorrectly on the sand, you might end up with a sprain or fracture. Always exercise caution when playing sports on the beach or in the water. Although accidents do happen, you may be able to prevent a beach injury just by surveying the scene and assessing whether the area is suitable for use. You should also be sure to warm up beforehand to prevent muscular damage. If you are injured while playing on the beach or while you’re in the water, you’ll want to seek out walk in treatment at your nearest urgent care facility.
Although you may be inclined to sit on a beach chair and get baking, the desire to get a tan can result in horrible sun damage. While sunburn is a very common occurrence, it’s one you should take steps to prevent. Use a sunscreen with a higher SPF (no, SPF 15 is not enough!) and apply with care, especially to the face, 30 minutes before you head outdoors. Reapply after swimming or every two hours. Even if you have sunblock on, limit your sun exposure during times of high UV radiation (typically, between 12 and 3 PM). If you still manage to get burned, get out of the sun right away, hydrate, and use a moisturizing cream. You may want to consider taking a pain reliever, too. You should see a doctor if your sunburn starts to blister and/or you develop a fever. Children aged one and below should see a doctor for any type of sunburn they develop.
- Sunstroke or dehydration
Sunstroke (which is heat stroke brought on by sun exposure) is a serious beach injury. In fact, it’s considered a medical emergency, so you should bypass urgent care and head straight to the hospital for this one. It typically happens when a person has prolonged heat exposure and the body cannot control its own temperature. Nausea, seizures, disorientation, and even loss of consciousness can occur here. This often happens with older adults, but it can impact athletes, too. Dehydration, which is often part of sunstroke, is less of an emergency but should still be taken seriously. Be sure to hydrate before you feel thirsty when you’re at the beach and listen to what your body is telling you. Don’t assume that you can handle the heat. If you’re exercising at the beach or are simply spending a long time outdoors, take frequent breaks, get in the shade or indoors, and drink plenty of water.
- Jellyfish stings
Jellyfish don’t pose an inherent threat to humans in the way that a shark might, but they’re still incredibly dangerous. It’s surprisingly easy to accidentally touch or step on one, and even if they’re dead, you can still be stung. Always exercise caution while in the water or on the sand, and stay away if you hear reports of jellyfish activity in the area. If you are stung by a jellyfish, do not wash the area with fresh water; this encourages the stingers to release, which puts more venom into the body. Do not try to scrape off the stingers or apply ice to the affected skin, either. Applying vinegar is a good first step, but you’ll still need to seek immediate medical attention if the sting covers a large area or you develop an allergic reaction or severe symptoms.
You may have signed up for an enjoyable day at the shore, but a beach injury can derail your plans. If you have sustained a non-life-threatening beach injury, seek out medical care at your local walk-in clinic right away.