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Stay Safe While at the Beach

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • The idea that eating before you travel is a cause of sea sickness is a misconception. The truth is that the emptier your stomach is, the faster you will experience sea sickness.
  • An unusually hot body temperature, symptoms of delirium, decreased blood pressure and confusion may be signs of a “heat stroke”.
  • In the event of a person drowning, they must receive help within four minutes, before the body is deprived of oxygen, resulting in cardiac arrest.

 

Stay Safe While at the Beach

Prepare for a Safe Beach Trip

It’s often joked that Thailand has three seasons—hot, hotter, and hottest! Because of this, beach trips are a popular and familiar way for Thai people to cool down when they have some time off. Children especially are looking forward to the hot(test) season as a time when they can swim and play in the water to their heart’s content. No matter how fun it may be, safety cannot and should not ever be overlooked.

Potential Dangers on Beach Vacations

  • Seasickness and Dizziness
    Unfortunately for many people, sea sickness and car sickness often go hand-in-hand with traveling. Those who suffer from these conditions often lose all the enjoyment of the trip even before they make it to their destinations. Motion sicknesses are caused or triggered by conflicting information regarding the body’s balance and equilibrium being sent to the central nervous system. For example: sitting in a vehicle while driving through roads with lots of curves or being in a boat when there are waves causing swaying or rocking movement, these motions can eventually cause an inability of the nervous system to maintain balance. This, in turn, causes symptoms of dizziness, nausea and vomiting. Some people can even fall into the water as a result.
    Because of this, persons who are prone to motion sickness, or persons who have a history of dizziness or vertigo or have balance disorders caused by nervous system abnormalities, they should be careful about swimming or diving alone. Diving requires extensive use of the vestibular nerve and balance system of the body, so if there is an abnormality or disorder of the balance organs or vestibular nerve, it could even cause drowning.
  • Poisoning by Dangerous Marine Creatures
    A trip to the beach will usually involve some water play or time spent in the sea itself. In the ocean, of course, there are many creatures, some poisonous and others non-poisonous. One common poisonous marine creature that should be avoided is jellyfish. The poison of the jellyfish comes from a specialized cell in its tentacles called nematocyst. The severity and potency of the poison depends on the type and size of the jellyfish. Certain types are less poisonous and not harmful to humans, while others are extremely poisonous and even fatal, especially the Portuguese man o’ war, distinguished by its long, filamentous tentacles. Jellyfish can be found both on the beach and in deep ocean waters. Fire coral is another poisonous marine organism that should be avoided at all costs. On the surface it looks just like any other beautiful coral, when in reality it is highly poisonous, similar to the jellyfish. Fire coral can also be found both along the beach as well as in deep waters, and is often found hidden amongst normal coral. If you brush up against or touch fire coral, it will immediately shoot out its poison and sting you. Although the venom of the fire coral is not as poisonous as that of the Portuguese man o’ war, the surprise or shock of the sting can even cause divers to drown. Sea urchins are yet another type of sea creature to avoid. There are two types of sea urchins: long-spined sea urchins and short-spined sea urchins. Long-spined sea urchins are generally not poisonous, but their long, sharp spines can cause injury or pain. Certain types of short-spined sea urchins, however, have poisonous spines on the bottom of their bodies and shoot venom from bulbous sacs at the tips of their spines. For those who are allergic to the venom, the stings may be fatal.
  • Heat Stroke
    Many people overlook the dangers of heat stroke while at the beach, due to the cool sea breeze. But being in the direct sunlight or in an area that lacks good air flow can also cause heat stroke. This can happen to anyone if their body’s thermoregulatory responses are inadequate to preserve a balance between the external heat and their internal body temperature. Those who should be particularly careful of the risk of sunstroke include the elderly, those with chronic diseases and small children, as well as those who take muscle relaxant and sleeping medications. Preliminary symptoms and signs of heat stroke include an unusually hot body temperature, sometimes as high as 41 degrees Celsius, symptoms of delirium in some patients, decreased blood pressure, confusion and even loss of consciousness in more serious cases.
  • Drowning, and in particular child or infant drowning, is a tragic and all-too-common accident. Especially while having fun swimming or playing in the water, it’s easy not to realize that you’ve floated farther and farther away from the shore, thus getting into a situation where one could potentially drown. Even for some adults who are fairly strong swimmers, if they all of a sudden experience a cramp or are in the hot sun for long periods of time, they can suddenly find themselves in potentially dangerous or life-threatening situations as well.

Preliminary Prevention and First Aid Techniques

Seasickness and Dizziness

  • Don’t have an empty stomach. There is a popular misconception that eating before traveling is a cause of motion sickness. The truth is that the emptier your stomach is, the faster you will experience sea sickness. Therefore, before you travel by boat, particularly if it is your normal mealtime, you should go ahead and eat normally, chew slowly, and then rest for about 30 minutes before getting on the boat.
  • Select seats in the middle of the vessel and in a place that has good wind flow and ventilation. Look far out into the distance, avoid watching the waves, and don’t try to read a book or use your mobile phone, as it will bring on sea sickness more quickly.
  • Those who know they are particularly prone to seasickness may choose to take one tablet of medication for motion sickness about a half an hour before the boat ride. This gives the medication time to be absorbed by the body, thus reducing the body’s sensitivity to the stimulation of the nervous system.
  • Meet with a doctor to find out the cause of your sea sickness. If the cause is a balance disorder or degeneration of the nervous system, you can take steps to get it treated properly.

Poisoning by Dangerous Marine Creatures

  • Avoid areas known to have poisonous marine animals or time periods when Portuguese man o‘ war jellyfish advisories have been issued. Researching information before you travel to a certain area can give you advance warning and help you stay safe during your trip.
  • Don’t kick or use your feet to poke or prod marine animals, regardless of whether they are poisonous or not.
  • If you are stung by a jellyfish or fire coral, get out of the water as quickly as possible and immediately wash the wound and affected area with sea water or vinegar. Avoid using fresh water. If there is a tentacle attached, do not use your bare hands to try to detach or take it off. Instead, use a cloth or piece of wood to remove the tentacle. Find a doctor immediately to receive proper treatment and prevent wound infections.
  • If brittle sea urchin spines have broken off inside a wound and you are unable to remove them, use a solid item, such as a water bottle, a piece of wood or a stone, and pound the affected area to crush the spines into tiny pieces. The pain should then dissipate as well. If, however, the pain does not disappear or widens to an even larger area, you should get to a hospital as quickly as possible.

Sun Stroke

  • Drink enough water—at least two liters per day.
  • Avoid swimming in very hot or strong sunlight.
  • Wear a hat whenever you walk outdoors.
  • Avoid consuming alcohol and certain types of medications. If you are a patient with a chronic disease, you should seek the advice of your doctor before traveling.
  • To help someone suffering from sunstroke, bring them into shade immediately. They should lie down with their feet raised to increase blood circulation. Wipe down their body with cold water. Possibly use a fan to help cool their body down further. From there, get them to a hospital for professional help as quickly as possible.

Drowning

  • Get enough rest, do not drink alcohol, and don’t eat too much before going in the water as this can cause stomach cramps, which can also be a cause of drowning.
  • If you see a red flag or a warning sign telling you that an area is a danger zone, or when it is a time period with waves are higher than normal, do not ignore the warnings or think you can swim anyway.
  • If you cannot swim, you should wear a life jacket or a rubber floating ring and you should not be in the water alone.
  • Do not swim or play in the water where there are high-speed boats or jet skis about.
  • If you intend to go diving, check the weather ahead of time and closely follow the rules and regulations of the area in which you will be diving.
  • If waves or wind pull you away from the shore, wave your arms to signal for help and then float on your back with the water current until help arrives. Do not try to swim against the water current, as this can cause exhaustion.
  • If you see that someone is drowning, ask for help by calling or shouting for help or by phoning a rescue unit.
  • Rescue and First Aid for a Drowning Child

    In the event of a child drowning, they must receive help within four minutes, before the body is deprived of oxygen, resulting in cardiac arrest.
    If the child is still conscious, they should be rushed to the hospital as quickly as possible.

If the child is unconscious, check their pulse within 10 seconds.

  • Is the child not breathing, but there is a pulse? Immediately start CPR, giving one breath every three seconds, and begin to perform chest compressions if their pulse is less than 60 beats per minute.
    • Provide rescue breaths, clearing the child’s airway. The child should be lying flat on their back. Place your hand on the forehead to carefully tilt the head back. Lift the chin forward with your other hand. Using your index finger and thumb, pinch the child’s nose closed. Next, cover the child’s mouth tightly with your mouth and blow a breath into their mouth until their lungs fill with air. You should see the child’s chest rise with each breath.
    • Repeat this about 20 times per minute (or blow a breath into the child’s mouth three seconds at a time).
  • If there is no pulse or the heart has stopped beating, chest compressions should be started immediately.
    • Stimulate the heartbeat using chest compressions by pressing down on the center of the chest about one finger’s width below the imaginary line between the two nipples.
    • On older children, use the heel of the hand to press down on the chest. On smaller children, use two fingers instead.
    • Press down on the child’s chest, so that it compresses about one third to one half the depth of the chest (1 ½–2 inches).
    • For the frequency of the compressions, if you are performing one-person CPR without the help of an assistant, give 30 chest compressions and then two rescue breaths. In the case of a two-person CPR, give 15 chest compressions and two rescue breaths, and then change positions with the assistant.
  • Check the child’s pulse and breathing every two minutes.
  • Continue alternating chest compressions with rescue breaths as described above until emergency units arrive, or continue until the child has arrived at the hospital.

If you are well prepared and have researched all the relevant information when beach vacation season comes around, your travels can be lots of fun and provide you with wonderful good memories that you’ll cherish forever.


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