At the beach, the sun is coming at you from all directions, including the sand and the water. A sunburn can happen in less than 20 minutes and ruin a whole week’s vacation. T-shirts and other light clothing offer little protection.
Rip currents are fast-moving water channels that form when waves break onshore between barrier islands, sandbars or piers; gravity pulls the water forcefully and swiftly out to sea, a hazard for even the best swimmers.
Even the strongest swimmer can’t swim against a rip current, but you can outsmart it:
If you see someone caught in a rip current, don’t try to rescue them yourself. Call 911; yell out the above instructions, and/or toss them a flotation device – it’s a good idea to take one to the beach on every visit. Here’s a link to the NOAA rip current forecast for our area beaches: http://www.weather.gov/beach/ilm
Building sand castles and digging holes in the beach is great fun, but your handiwork can be a hazard for bike riders, walkers and even for sea turtles that can get blocked or trapped by them. Please level your sand castle and fill in any holes before you leave for the day.
Jellyfish can put the sting on your vacation. Always scan the water before splashing in. Make sure you educate your children about jellyfish, as they might touch them out of curiosity in the water or on the sand. In case of a sting, rinse off any remaining tentacles with salt water, not fresh, and use a credit card or other item to scrape, if necessary. Then rinse with vinegar, not fresh water. If you experience swelling, shortness of breath, or faintness, seek medical attention immediately.
The less common blue-purple Portuguese man o' war is not a jellyfish but a siphonophore. It can deliver a painful sting even when dead. Portuguese man o' war stings are treated differently than jellyfish stings. First apply saltwater and then follow-up with hot water for 15 to 20 minutes. Do not treat with vinegar. If necessary seek medical attention. While the ocean is home to a wide variety of sea life including sharks, shark encounters are very rare. According to the ISAF, Florida Museum of Natural History, the likelihood of a shark attack is 1 in 11.5 million. To put it in perspective, in North Carolina you would be 193 times more likely to die from a lightning strike than a shark attack. https://www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/shark-attacks/odds/compare-risk/death/
Though chance encounters with sharks are highly unlikely, there are precautions you can take when swimming in the ocean:
For the complete brochure on Shark Sense, click here: http://ncseagrant.ncsu.edu/ncseagrant_docs/products/2000s/shark_sense.pdf
Boating safety is a serious priority in North Carolina. Operating watercraft is both fun and safe when you observe the rules. For regulations and rules to be aware of when you bring your boat to our waters, please follow this link to the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission’s boating regulations: http://www.ncwildlife.org/Boating/LawsSafety/BoatingRegulations.aspx
Public boating access areas and marinas are available throughout Brunswick Islands. If you’re planning to rent a fishing or pleasure boat or personal watercraft, our outfitters will include a safety course and checklist.
By educating yourself, your friends and family about sun and sea safety, you can ensure that everyone has a great vacation and can’t wait to return again soon!