Corky Carroll: It’s time for the annual summer beach survival guide

by in News

Yes kiddies, this is the first part of my annual tips columns on how to survive going to the beach this summer.

As always, this is aimed at newbies and other non-beach-oriented people who might be a tad clueless when it comes to the hazards to your health of what would seem to be a fun day at the beach.

For those of you who have read these in years past, I suggest you stick with me and read this one too, just as a refresher in case you forgot any of this helpful information.

First off, and probably most importantly, that big ol’ summer sun is not in any way your friend. Yeah, you are looking to put on a nice glorious golden tan and look all cool in your summer outfits. That’s all good and fine, but you need to do this without getting sunburned, and that is the issue that most people either overlook or are not aware of.

Sunblock is your friend — your very, very good friend. And you should use plenty of it. Put it on at least 20 minutes before you go into the sun and reapply it fairly often. Yeah, it says it lasts all day and is water resistant and all that, but you need to keep using it, especially if you go into the water.

I know some of you are of the opinion you can hang out for a little while getting “color,” before you apply any protection. This is a really bad opinion because you will likely burn. I cannot impress upon you how important this is. Today’s sunburn could be skin cancer in the future. Trust me on that because I know all about it.

Besides that, it hurts. Wear a hat too.

The next thing that is super important at the beach is having a good pair of polarized sunglasses. All those pretty sparkles on the ocean are a zillion tiny mirrors reflecting sunlight directly into your eyes, and yes, your eyes can get burned too. The sand is also highly reflective, just like snow.

Sunburned eyes can lead to growths that your eyes form to protect themselves. I know all about that too. I have had the surgery to remove them and I can tell you right now that it is no fun at all. Well, unless you think having somebody cutting on your eyes while you are awake is fun. I, for one, am not into that kind of thing.

In short, the sun that you seek can really ruin your day if you do not know how to protect yourself from its hazards.

Another hazard is that as the day progresses the sand gets hotter and hotter. People head down by the water and get a nice spot all set up for the day when it’s still cool. But then later in the afternoon when they pick up their gear and attempt to walk back to the car, that stretch of beach between you and it has turned red hot. They are called “burning sands” for a reason.

If you don’t have something to put on your feet you are in for a world of hurt. First you will start to hop, then run, then run as fast as you can while screaming as your feet blister right under you. This, once again, is no fun.

Another very bad thing is dehydration. You need to take along water or some sort of electrolyte beverage. Cokes, coffee, beer are all dehydrators. If you get dehydrated you will feel exactly like you have food poisoning, or what people call “the revenge.” The thing is, often when people think they have something like that it is dehydration. It is dangerous, too, as it can lead to heatstroke and other potentially serious complications.

So, the quick summary: Protect yourself from the sun and drink a lot of water. Use sunblock, wear a hat and sunglasses and take along something to wear on your feet for when the sand gets hot.

I will get to “in the water” hazards next week.

Ask the expert

Q. What do you consider the most dangerous part of learning to surf? I am getting ready to take it up, am a 37-year-old female with no experience at all and I don’t want to kill myself or get seriously hurt. Any good hints?

Sylvia Hendershot, Long Beach

A. Good that you asked because there are a couple of very important safety tips that I can give you.

First off is always cover your head and face when you fall off, and stay underwater for a few seconds in order to let your board land in case it happens to be in the air above your head. Come up hands first, not head first.

Also, never let yourself get hit sideways by a wave — always have your board facing out or in, but not sideways.

I also — and I always preach this, so it’s nothing new — highly suggest you take some lessons from a reputable surf school or surfing instructor. It’s really good to know how not to get hurt at the same time as learning how to surf. A flying surfboard to the head is not a good thing.