When we think “beach safety,” we usually think of swimming accidents — diving into too shallow water, getting caught in riptides or receiving a beating in heavy waves. But there are other threats at the beach that can turn a fun day outdoors into a less fun visit to the local emergency room.
“We see a lot of very bad sunburn cases each summer,” says Dr. Mark Tamsen, emergency medicine physician at Sharp Coronado Hospital. “People don’t think about applying or reapplying sunscreen, and they are so distracted swimming and playing at the beach that they don’t notice how severely burned they’re getting, until it’s too late.”
Dr. Tamsen says the Emergency Department at Sharp Coronado also sees a number of stingray stings this time of year. “Most people don’t know they should shuffle their feet when walking in the surf; and those who do know that can still jump off a surfboard or boogie board and land right on top of a ray. We have days when there are three or four stingray victims in the lobby, waiting for treatment.”
While such stings rarely turn into something serious, they can cause tremendous pain that can last two hours to two days.
Other problems include burns from coals or embers left in the sand by thoughtless beachgoers, or broken glass and other sharp items that can cut tender bare feet.
“Another thing to think about is food safety,” says Dr. Tamsen. “People will pack a picnic lunch early in the morning, and not keep it cool enough before it’s eaten. We see a lot of food poisoning cases.”
Jellyfish, heat exhaustion and getting clobbered by a surfboard or a badly aimed Frisbee are just a few other complaints that are received in the emergency room. But planning ahead and keeping a sharp eye can prevent such mishaps.
“Coronado is rated among the top 10 beaches in the country,” says Dr. Tamsen. “People come from all over the world to swim, lie on the beach and enjoy a beautiful day with the family. They don’t want to come and spend the afternoon with me.”
For the media: To talk with Dr. Tamsen about beach safety, contact Erica Carlson, senior public relations specialist, at firstname.lastname@example.org.