Stay Safe at the Beach
Outsmart beach bummers, from swimmerâ€™s ear to jellyfish stings.
For extra protection from the sunâ€™s rays, get a beach umbrella with an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) of 50 or higher, says Jessica Wu, MD, a Los Angelesâ€“based dermatologist.
One we like: the Tommy Bahama 6Â½-foot Beach Umbrella with Tilt UPF 100+ ($65; Amazon.com). Donâ€™t have a UPF-rated umbrella? Choose one made of dark, tightly woven material. â€œIf you can see through it, the sunâ€™s rays can â€˜seeâ€™ your skin,â€ Dr. Wu says.
Escape strong currents
Rip currents—channels of water moving rapidly away from shore—can occur at any beach, including larger lakes, says Chris Brewster, president of the United States Lifesaving Association.
If you’re swept away, don’t make a beeline for land—you’ll exhaust yourself swimming against the current. Remain calm and swim parallel to the shore to get out of the current. Or just tread water: The current will eventually peter out.
Soothe a jellyfish sting
Despite what you may have seen on TV, don’t pee on the affected area. Instead, Brewster advises: Cover your hand with a towel and pull off any tentacles lingering on your skin, then rinse with ocean water. (Fresh water can worsen the sting.)
Seek immediate medical attention if you have any reaction beyond pain at the site of the sting, such as hives or shortness of breath.
Dry up swimmer's ear
To prevent this infection, caused by water trapped in the ear canal, dry out your ears with drops like Swim-Ear ($5; drugstores). Or make your own with equal parts white vinegar and alcohol. After a swim, place a few drops in your ear, then let drain.
Prevent a No-See-Um attack
Sand mites, tiny insects that reside in sand, can cause annoying, itchy bites. Ward them off with a mild insect repellent; try Burt’s Bees Herbal Insect Repellent ($8; BurtsBees.com).
If you do get nibbled, apply Benadryl cream or calamine lotion to calm the itch, Dr. Wu says. Don’t scratch—you could cause an infection.