It’s officially summer. And like many people, you’re probably excited to head to the beach. But nothing can ruin a day of fun in the sun like forgetting to bring the things that can help keep you and your loved ones healthy and safe.
Here are five things to bring to the beach for a safe summer day:
- Sunscreen. Five sunburns during the course of a lifetime doubles a person’s risk of developing skin cancer, which is why skin protection is so important. Wear sunscreen every day — and definitely when at the beach. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or above and apply generously. Reapply often, as humidity, sweating and swimming decrease the effectiveness of sunscreen.
- Shade. Overheating in hot weather and under the shining sun is a dangerous possibility. Bring an umbrella, pop-up tent or portable sun shelter for small children. Wear a wide-brimmed hat to shade your scalp, face, ears and neck. And don’t forget to wear protective clothing, such as a long-sleeve shirt or rash guard for water activities. You should also wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays, wind and sand.
- Swim aids and surf awareness. Ocean swimming is different from swimming in a pool. Be prepared for strong surf and monitor the posted warning flags. Yellow flags signal there is a medium hazard, and weak swimmers are discouraged from entering the water. Red flags mean there is a high hazard, and all swimmers are discouraged from entering the water. If you’re at the beach with a child or an adult who can’t swim, make sure they have a well-fitted life jacket. And always keep children in your arms or constantly supervised and within your reach.
- Hydration. When it is hot and sunny, we sweat more than usual, putting ourselves at risk for dehydration, which can lead to health complications. To stay hydrated, drink plenty of fluids throughout the day. Drinking 8 cups of water each day is a broad recommendation, but is a good goal for most people. Drink more if you’re being active while at the beach, it’s especially hot, or you’re still feeling thirsty.
- Healthy foods. Pack healthy snacks to feel better throughout the day and have more energy to play on the beach and in the water. You’ll also save yourself from splurging at pricey oceanfront shops and restaurants. Some fruits and veggies — think watermelons, peaches, oranges and cucumbers — are high in water content and especially hydrating, giving you a two-for-one benefit. And eating antioxidant-rich foods, such as berries, pomegranates, avocados and leafy greens, can help boost your skin’s sun protection.
Before heading to the shoreline, visit sandiego.org to find a local beach that’s right for you. Always choose a beach monitored by lifeguards. And don’t forget to leave the beach and ocean better than you found it — dispose of all litter and respect wildlife.