rip currents Summer is prime time for beach action, and for good reason! The surf and the sand are so much easier to enjoy when it’s warm enough to play in them. But there are some risks you might not know about lurking in the depths. As we reach the end of Rip Current Awareness Week on June 5 through June 11, 2016, it’s important to remember to practice safe beach behaviors any time you’re at the coast. Read on for tips to help you stay safe while having fun in the sun.

Rip Currents

The ocean is very different from a swimming pool, so you have to be aware of what you could encounter on your next swim. For one, the ocean has strong currents. The waves alone can knock you off your feet, but what’s really dangerous are “rip currents,” also known as “riptides.” Riptides are responsible for most of the rescues lifeguards perform, and they claim over 100 lives every year. These are strong currents going back to the ocean from the beach, and they can be much stronger than the rest of the current due to the added force of gravity. Experts recommend that if you find yourself caught in a riptide, instead of trying to swim straight back to the beach, swim parallel to the shore until you feel the current relax enough to allow you to swim to shore. If you can’t swim to shore, try to draw attention to yourself by waving your arms and calling for help.

Beware the Unknown

You should also beware of what could be under the surface of the ocean. Since it is often hard to see to the bottom, you should never try to dive into the ocean. It’s much safer to enter feet first, so that your head doesn’t hit something you couldn’t see. You should also stay on the lookout for aquatic life, and try to leave it alone as much as possible. These animals can often be dangerous, especially when they feel threatened.

Lather Up – And Drink Up, Too!

Of course, the beach isn’t just the ocean. To stay safe while you’re outside the water, make sure that you have enough sunscreen and fresh water to keep everyone hydrated and protected from the sun’s rays. Dehydration can lead to a heat injury, such as heat stroke, which can make a day at the beach a nightmare. Dehydration can also exhaust you, which can make swimming a lot tougher. And a bad sunburn is more than just painful — sunburns cause mutations in the skin cells which can increase your risk of getting skin cancer.

Playing at the beach is a fun way to spend your summer, but the risks we’ve discussed here can ruin a perfect day in the sun and sand. Use our tips, and if anything happens, visit your local AFC Urgent Care to keep your family healthy and safe!