5 Safety Tips To Enjoy The Beach During That Long Weekend
Are you planning on hitting the beach or a staycation during that long weekend?
Here are some safety and health tips provided by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) that can come in handy all year round.
1. Avoid Tanning & Be Sun Safe
Thinking about getting a “healthy tan” over vacation? Think again. Any increase in skin pigment (called “melanin”) is a sign of damage. Ultraviolet radiation from the sun can cause wrinkles and dark spots among other problems—and tanning puts you at higher risk for skin cancer. Plus, sunlight reflecting off of sand or water increases exposure to UV radiation and increases your risk of developing eye problems.
Here’s how to be sun safe:
- Use sunscreen. Wear a broad spectrum sunscreen that protects against UVA and UVB rays, and choose an SPF of 15 or higher.
- Wear sunglasses. Choose sunglasses labeled with a UVA/UVB rating of 100% to get the most UV protection.
- Wear protective clothing. Consider wearing a hat and clothing that covers skin exposed to the sun.
- Understand the facts about tanning beds. You may be tempted to “pre-tan” before a beach vacation. But don’t. The lamps in these beds emit ultraviolet radiation that can be more intense and harmful than the sun.
- Beware of spray tans and bronzers. Know that spray-on tanning or bronzing products are not UV protective.
2. Check Medications Before You Go
Know what medications you’ll need while on vacation. Check that you have enough to last the trip.
Also, review the instructions for taking medications. Look for warnings about interactions your medicines might have with certain foods or drinks and any other side effects. Talk to your healthcare provider about concerns or questions you have about your medications before you go. Don’t skip doses, don’t share medication, and don’t take more than the suggested dose.
3. Be Careful With Contact Lenses
If you wear contact lenses, be sure you have the supplies you need to last the trip. To avoid problems such as eye infections and corneal ulcers, make sure your contacts are prescribed by an eye care professional. Skip colored or decorative lenses sold in beauty supply stores or at the boardwalk, since they can damage your eyes.
Wash your hands before touching lenses, and use sterile solution. Never expose your lenses to saliva or non-sterile water, including that from the tap, bottle, or ocean. (Non-sterile water can put you at risk for an eye infection.) So remove your contacts before swimming or getting in the hot tub and follow your eye care professional’s other care and removal instructions.
Also remember to bring glasses in case your eyes become irritated. If your vision changes, your eyes get red, you have lots of tears, or your eyes hurt or feel itchy, take out your contact lenses and seek medical attention.
4. Think Twice About Getting Tattoos or Henna
Tattoo and henna shops are often found on boardwalks and other areas around the beach. Whether you consider something non-permanent (like henna) or an actual tattoo, think before you ink. Getting a tattoo can put you at risk for serious infections like HIV or hepatitis if you are exposed to unclean tools, practices, or products. Plus, tattoo inks can cause allergic or otherwise bad reactions.
The FDA has not approved any inks for injecting into the skin and, as a general matter, does not actively regulate tattoo parlors. The FDA also hasn’t approved henna or hair dye for skin use, and some people have reported serious problems after using henna, including allergic reactions such as rashes and scarring.
5. Stay Hydrated and Eat Healthy
Dehydration happens when your body does not have as much water and fluids as it should. It can be mild, moderate, or severe. So avoid getting dehydrated. For instance, when you spend a late afternoon at the beach (remember sun safety!) bring water and drink even before you feel thirsty. That said, beware of ice or tap water in places where the water isn’t safe to drink.
Along with staying hydrated, try to make healthy food choices. If you’re at a buffet, you can follow the dietary guidelines, for instance, by first filling your plate with fruits, vegetables and whole grains and then adding the protein source.
This article appears on the FDA’s Consumer Updates page, which features the latest on all FDA-regulated products.