The Sunshine State boasts a glittering paradise of sand and surf, perfect for soothing your soul -- and your toes. Read on to get the inside scoop on how to keep your beach days happy.
Avoid an overdose of sunshine
It sounds obvious, but dehydration and sunburn can happen fast at the beach.
- Remember to drink plenty of fluids, but avoid alcoholic beverages.
- Use sunscreen often, and reapply after swimming. The spray-on kind is especially useful when you’re wet and sandy.
- Bring protective clothing and an umbrella.
- Avoid the midday sun, which is most intense.
- Bring your shades and wear them; your eyes can get sunburned, too. Make sure your sunglasses are UV certified.
Know what beach flags mean
Florida beaches use a uniform flag warning system to advise beachgoers of potential safety risks. These colored flags are there to help protect you. Here’s what they mean:
- Double Red - Danger! Water Closed to Public
- Single Red - High Hazard, High Surf and/or Strong Currents
- Yellow - Medium Hazard, Moderate Surf and/or Currents
- Green - Low Hazard, Calm Conditions, Exercise Caution
- Purple - Dangerous Marine Life (Usually Jellyfish)
- An absence of Beach Flags Does Not Assure Safe Waters.
Be in tune with current events
You can easily go for a swim in the ocean and end up blocks away from where you started. Pick out a landmark where you enter the water and keep an eye on it while you swim. Always swim in front of a lifeguard and in water that is waist-deep or less.
Don’t get carried away
A rip current is a flow of water moving in the offshore direction. They don’t pull people underwater – but they can pull you out to sea much faster than you can swim. Here’s how to break the grip of the rip.
- Remain calm; you need to conserve energy and think clearly.
- Never fight the current.
- Think of a rip current as a treadmill that can’t be turned off. You just need to step off of it.
- Just swim out of the current in a direction following the shoreline. When out of the current, swim at an angle (away from the current) toward the shore.
- If you are unable to swim out of the rip current, float or calmly tread water. When out of the current, swim toward the shore.
- If you are unable to reach the shore, draw attention to yourself by lifting your arm and yelling for help.
A quick flash
Lightning is a real danger. If you can hear thunder, or if a storm is approaching, get out of the water and get off the beach. Think of it as a prime opportunity to explore the area’s indoor attractions. Plus, most storms are not a total washout, just an interlude of an hour or two. You’ll be back on the beach in a flash!
Photos by Lauren Tjaden for VISIT FLORIDA