While travelling, the beach is often an added bonus to your destination, especially for those joining an internship or volunteer abroad placement. It is important to remember that the beach also poses risks. Some beaches even share the conditions online. Here are our top 5 tips for your next travel adventure to help you stay safe at the beach!
1) Local Warnings
Always heed local warnings signs, and do a bit of research to understand symbols, flags and pictures. Follow notices banning where you can swim. Be aware of sudden drops of the bank into deeper waters and changing conditions throughout your visit.
2) Deserted Beaches
Deserted beaches, with little to no people on them are a paradise, a dream come true where you can escape everyday life and crowds. Remember to leave your valuables at home and do not carry large amounts of cash. Your belongings may be targeted especially when you are enjoying a swim. Don’t put yourself into a situation where you are unable to be seen or heard if you need assistance. Do not get tempted into a late night swim or moonlight beach walk, as this can make you a target for unwanted attention.
3) Alcohol and Partying
Many beachside incidents while abroad happen when someone is under the influence of alcohol or drugs (to be avoided at all costs). Be aware of your own limits, your situation and surroundings. You may feel more comfortable than normal in going somewhere with someone you just met, compromising your safety. Try to use the buddy system, never swim under the influence, sleep on the beach or walk in areas where there are few people.
4) Riptides and Current
For many seemingly tranquil beaches or crashing waves are a real pull. While it may seem that the waves are not large, or the currents weak, there are hidden dangers. Riptides are intensely strong and are not easy to spot especially to an untrained eye. Strong currents can pull you out to sea proving too exhausting for most swimmers. Try to swim in an area where others are around so that someone can come to your aid if needed.
5) Marine Wildlife & Rubbish
Many underwater creatures will not bother you even though you are in their habitat. However there are times when there maybe an increase in jellyfish in the water and on the beach. In some locations you may find sharks, stingrays and even alligators or hippos so look out for warning signs. Do not swim in cloudy bodies of water alone and remember you are in their home so it is important to respect that.
It is also a sad reality that we are not looking after our beaches. Many are being spoilt with rubbish from visitors and nearby fishing communities. Hidden under the sand may be broken bottles, fish hooks, bits of broken wood or nails that can cut your foot or ankle. Always take your rubbish with you when you leave the beach so you do not endanger someone else. If you are cut, make sure your tetanus is up to date and clean the wound with an antiseptic to avoid infection.