Emergency Preparedness Committee: Summer Safety

Wishing you a wonderful and SAFE Fourth of July celebration. Enjoy the day with family and friends—food, games, beach, sun and, yes, fireworks displays (run by the pros, without you ever lighting a match).
Did you hear the one about the good neighbor/bad neighbor nearby? We are so fortunate to have a beautiful expanse of OCEAN literally at our footsteps, with a fabulous beach, swimming, surfing, and tons of water fun.
However, the ocean has another side that can present a nasty element if we aren’t vigilant. RIP CURRENTS are a serious and frequent hazard in our waters. They can pull swimmers out to sea and prevent them from swimming back to the beach. Pay attention to warning flags and check with Lifeguards when hitting the beach. Rip currents are often seen as a channel of choppy water, an area of water of a different color, a line of seaweed or foam moving seaward, or a break in the wave pattern coming into shore. The best way to get away from rip currents is to swim in a parallel direction to the beach until you find yourself out of the pulling current.
You must have seen or read about the SHARK visitors along our coast, with some sightings as close as 25 yards off shore. While actual shark attacks are rare, they have occurred and shouldn’t be ignored. Pay heed to the posted shark warnings on the beach!!!!
How about JELLY FISH? They swim underneath the surface and aren’t present on a routine basis BUT, if you get stung by one, take action: Remove any pieces of the jellyfish tentacle by rinsing the wound with seawater. DON’T rub the area with a towel but try scraping with a sharp edge of a credit card or a stiff edge. Rinse with vinegar or apply baking soda paste. Take a hot shower and
apply ice packs, and then apply lotions.
STINGRAYS also can be encountered under the surface on the sandy bottom. They have a barbed spine with sharp points that produce venom and can be very painful. To get relief, soak in very hot water for more than an hour and then seek medical help. Watch for signs of infection such as redness. Best way to avoid stingrays when entering the water is to SHUFFLE your feet to alert them to swim away. What about more common beach and water hazards?
SUNBURN: Always wear a 30SPF or greater and re-apply, lips and ears too. Wear a hat, sunglasses, protective clothing. Every year, over 34,000 people go to the ER for sunburns that are severe. Children don’t pay attention to being protected, so it’s up to you to make sure they don’t get too much sun.
DROWNING: Use a beach with lifeguards. Don’t dive into the water, but walk in feet first to avoid spinal injuries. Have a “water watcher” to keep track at all times where kids and buddies are. Needless to say, booze and water don’t mix at the beach. Be smart and be safe.
THUNDERSTORMS: They don’t happen too often on our beaches but they can come up fast. If you see dark clouds coming close or hear thunder, then also look for lightning and get to cover quickly, even if its not raining. DON’T get under an umbrella but seek shelter in a building or get to the car. Don’t wait until the storm is on top of the area.
Going to the beach and enjoying the ocean should be fun, but be smart and aware of some of the hazards and surprises that can happen while you’re there.
—Kent Wellbrock

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