During the summer, the beach is one of the most popular places to visit, and it can also be the most dangerous. The National Weather Service (NWS) lists the hazards and explains how to stay safe at the beach on their website for the public. The hazards listed by the NWS include: dangerous currents, tsunamis, heat, and lightning.
Dangerous currents can be scary and life threatening. Rip currents are fast-moving currents of water that can pull swimmers from the shore. Students at Texas A&M said that if caught in a rip current, don’t fight the current directly – swim a direction that follows the shoreline and then swim back to the shore. Sometimes swimmers cannot escape the current. If then, they should float or tread water until the current stops, then swim back to shore. Sadly, poor swimmers can drown in powerful currents.
An earthquake can cause a tsunami on the shore. It is important for people to know that if the water recedes from the shore, it is a sign of a tsunami. If this happens, everyone must evacuate immediately. Tsunamis are deadly and can come miles in-shore. The wave can be up to 125 miles in length. The National Oceanography Centre states that a tsunami wave’s speed can be calculated by the square root of 9.8 times the water depth. For example, in the deep ocean at 5,000 m this is 221 m per second. This means the wave is moving at about 500 miles per hour in the deep ocean.
Heat can be a hazard at the beach if the proper precaution isn’t taken. The NWS states online that it is always important to wear sunscreen or some kind of protection (a layer of clothes or an umbrella) from the sun while at the beach to decrease the chance of getting sunburn or sun poisoning. Sun poisoning is a severe form of sunburn that can cause blistering, swelling, headache, fever, nausea, dizziness, and dehydration. These are all symptoms that can be avoided if proper precaution is taken before going out in the sun. Also, sand has a high reflectivity of light, which can increase the chance of sunburn/sun poisoning. The higher the reflectivity of the light, the more UV rays are reflected off the surface.
Lastly, lightning is another hazard that people need to be aware of when at the beach. The second greatest cause for lightning fatalities are beach activities, according to the NWS. Thunder is hidden by the sound of waves, making it hard for people to know when a thunderstorm is coming. Also, being on the beach leaves people in a wide-open space making it more likely to get struck by lightning.
Try to keep these tips in mind before going to the beach so you can be prepared for beach hazards. Always being prepared can make any beach trip fun and safe.
Credit: The National Weather Service, The National Oceanography Centre
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©2018 Weather Forecaster Brittany Connelly