The Malta Independent 23 September 2017, Saturday

A&H: When life’s a beach - Keep safe and well with A&H’s guide to the summer holidays

A&H Magazine Friday, 30 June 2017, 08:30 Last update: about 4 months ago

PROTECT

EYES UV rays don't just harm your skin. They also damage your eyes. Sunglasses should protect your eyes from UV damage. Choose sunglasses for functionality, not just aesthetics. The cheap fun types with brightly coloured lenses might not do the job.

SKIN Buy the best sunblock you can afford, preferably with a high protection factor (35+), and apply it before going out into the sun.  Unless you have the patience to continually rub sunblock onto wriggly children, it is best to use a waterproof type for them since it has more staying power and can be re-applied at longer intervals. 

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FEET Watch out for post-barbeque debris like broken glass, bottle tops, tins and even used syringe needles.  Young children could wear "jelly shoes" to the beach for protection.

SPINES AND STINGS

Many people worry about shark attacks, but a jellyfish attack is more likely.  If this happens, the best thing to do is splash the affected area with vinegar or with seawater (fresh water is not as effective). Then, scrape or 'shave' the area gently, using a credit card or something similar, to remove the remaining stings.

Do not rub the affected area as this will simply work the stings and poison further into your skin.  Sometimes even a mild sting could cause a strong allergic reaction so if the victim feels unusually tired or unwell, or has difficulty breathing, seek medical help.

Sea urchins are another common beach nuisance. If any spines get under the skin, remove them immediately to avoid infection. If any are deeply lodged, use a traditional onion poultice to encourage the spines to move to the surface where you can remove them easily with tweezers.

TUMMY TROUBLE

Beach food is prone to contamination because of heat and exposure. If you take picnic food to the beach, keep it chilled and eat it as soon as possible after you arrive.  Temperatures rise very quickly, even in the shade, and good food can turn into tummy trouble sooner than you know it. Take a packet of dry biscuits or galletti for children to nibble on.

Before you buy food at a beach kiosk, check the kitchen. If you see any food left unrefrigerated and uncovered, look for another place to eat. It takes just one contaminated tomato in your sandwich to ruin a perfectly good day.

SAFE DIPS

Do not leave children unattended on airbeds or other flotation devices, since they can easily drift out of reach. Small children in particular tend to wander off easily. Have children keep their armbands on at all times in case they run into the water unexpectedly.

BEAT THE HEAT

Watch out for heat induced trouble. Warning signs are feeling weak, dry skin, confusion or dizziness, headache, clouded vision, rapid pulse, nausea and collapse. Children are especially vulnerable, so even if you're feeling fine, watch out for any signs of trouble.

Drink lots of water frequently, even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid sweetened or alcoholic drinks because they have a dehydrating effect. Stay home during the hottest time of day. High temperature usually mean more humidity, increasing the possibility of heat exhaustion and heatstroke.

Heat exhaustion can be treated by moving the person to a cool environment and getting him or her to swallow cool, slightly salty drinks such as plain water with a pinch of salt. Heatstroke is a medical emergency and needs professional help. While medical assistance is on the way, move the person to the shade and splash him/her repeatedly with cool water.

 

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