When I lived in Florida, many times I witnessed extremely sunburned people. Whether at Disney World, the grocery store, or even at the beach – still trying to even out their “tan” and soak up the rays before vacation ended. They usually had the sunburned areas covered with towels.
They obviously had come down from the north, white as ghosts for lack of sun all winter, and were determined to “get a tan”.
It’s a much hotter sun in the tropics. In Florida you are much closer to the equator and the sun is able to fry you much quicker than farther north.
1. Wear sunscreen, SPF 30+, believe me, you will still tan! And add the sunscreen BEFORE hitting the beach- at least 1/2 hour before is recommended and reapply often. The sun is strongest between 10am and 3pm, so it’s good to get out early, take a break and head back out in the late afternoon.
2. Wear a wide brimmed hat. One that will cover your ears as well as shield your eyes and nose. You will burn on a cloudy day as well! (Also wear sunscreen). Rent or use an umbrella – you will get tanned even when under it!
3. Take lots of water or Gatorade type drinks with you in plastic containers and pack the cooler with LOTS of ice. (beaches don’t allow glass of any kind.)
4. Kids cannot stay out for long on a Florida beach in summer. Even with a high SPF sunscreen, hats, umbrellas, drinks and the works I don’t think that young children can take more than two hours safely in mid-summer and it should be less if you are going back out later in the day.
5. And most importantly…You will not see the burn until much later on so judge by the time you spend on the beach and not how great your “tan” looks. Start slowly, especially if you will be on vacation for a week or two.
Don’t spend your honeymoon or vacation at the hospital…it happens!
Be aware of the rip current warnings as well.
A rip current is an undertow that happens at a section of the beach where the sand has been washed away causing a river type run out. You can’t see it because it’s under the waves and water, but when the water runs back out it is faster than the normal undertow and can pull a person out to sea very quickly.
Very often there are rip current warnings on the east coast beaches of Florida, so be aware and just stay close to shore, but if you ever do get caught in a rip current this is what you should do:
1. Don’t panic, and don’t try to swim straight back in to shore against the current. You will become exhausted fast.
2. Let the current carry you out- and call for help if there are lifeguards. (You should always swim where the lifeguards are, but if you swim at night, there won’t be any). It will stop pulling you once the water is deeper.
3. Swim to the side instead of straight back in to shore and you will get out of the current and safely be able to get back to shore.
I always reminded my children of this whenever we went to the beach. I’m sure it isn’t easy to stay calm while the water is dragging you away from shore, but having this information should help.
Click here for more on rip currents.