Tag Archives: safety

8 Ways to Prepare for a Hurricane

Right now, South Florida is waiting in suspense to see what Tropical Storm Erika is going to do. While it is still too early to say exactly where she will go, it is never too early to begin preparing for a potential storm.

As someone who experienced the intense hurricane season of 2004, I know it is better to be safe than sorry. Strong storms, like most of nature, are unpredictable. Most people will wait until the last minute to get supplies, and in situations such as this, waiting until just before the storm comes is often too late. Stores will run out of water and gas stations will run out of gas, and deliveries to areas that are either under evacuation or faced with a major storm threat will be suspended.

So beat the rush and make sure your family and home are ready just in case!

What To Do As Soon as Possible

Check to see what supplies you already have

Gather any flashlights, candles, and batteries you have in case the power goes out. Check the pantry to see what non-perishable food items you already have, such as canned food, chips, nuts, or fruit. Also see if you have bottles of water or other drinks that will be ok to drink unrefrigerated. Make sure you have a first-aid kit, and if you are taking medication, make sure you have a full supply or refill just in case you can’t get to the pharmacy for a week or longer. Don’t forget about your pets; make sure they have enough food and water to last too!

Shop for what you don’t have

Whenever you are in the “cone of concern,” it is a good idea to head to your local store ASAP and get what you need. It is unbelievable how fast places can sell out of important things such as water, and the place you want to be is in one of these stores when everyone else who waited is fighting over the last pack of batteries.

Fill up your car with gas

Filling up your car with gas is absolutely imperative. If the power is out, there is no gas. If an area is under storm warning, gas tankers will suspend their normal routes. If you have a gas grill, it is also a good idea to refill your propane tank if needed, so you will have a way to cook or boil water if the power goes out.

Board Up

If you have a lot of windows, sliding glass doors, etc. and strong winds are predicted, purchase plywood from your local home improvement store and board up any windows. Do this whether you are staying in your home, or seeking shelter elsewhere. Don’t wait until the very last minute to do this, because it can take more time than you might think to do it right. If you are lucky enough to have storm shutters, put those babies down and batten down the hatches! Not only will boarding up protect you during the storm, it will also protect you after the storm, when unfortunately sometimes looting can become an issue.

Just Before the Storm

Charge your electronics

Make sure phones, computers, and tablets are charged. Though cell towers and WiFi may be impacted during the storm, charging them just before the storm hits is a good idea. At least throughout the storm you may have music and games available, and there’s always a chance the cell towers may be working so you can let loved ones know you’re ok.

Bring in anything that is not bolted down

Wind is a powerful force, and something that should not be tempted. Bring in any patio furniture, grills, garden gnomes, or anything else that can become a projectile object in tropical storm or hurricane force winds. Don’t take any chances!

Fill up your tub with water

Sometimes before a storm, a city will turn off the electricity or water systems for safety reasons. Before this happens, or before the storm takes these services out, fill up your tub or tubs with water. This will come in handy for bathing or washing things if necessary.

Prepare a “Hurricane Party” Room

For the brunt of the storm it is best to go in the center of your home that is on the first floor and has no windows. A laundry room or closet usually works best. Before the storm happens, make it comfy! Bring in a spare mattress or some bean bag chairs, put candles, flashlights, and water in there. Make yourself as comfy as possible to ride out the storm!

Final Thoughts

Preparing for the storm is key to maximize the safety of both you and your family. If you are ordered to evacuate, evacuate. If you live in a flood zone, maybe go to a shelter or to a hotel. Whatever you do, don’t take any chances, and don’t panic either! Also, don’t try and drive during a tropical storm or hurricane. Prepare a bag in case you need to leave suddenly, and put any prized possessions in a sealed plastic container or waterproof safe to protect them.

Be safe and smart!

For more information on storm prep, check out Ready.gov.

Swimming Safety: Rip Currents

rip current beach sign

Getting caught in a rip current is a scary moment, no matter how well you can swim or how many times you have been in the ocean.

As with most scenarios, maintaining composure will allow you to get out of the rip current safely, or as this sign so succinctly says, “Break the grip of the rip!”

According to the NOAA, 100 people drown in rip currents every year in the United States alone. People caught in rip currents account for more than 80% of all lifeguard rescues.

Rip currents can occur in any large body of water, even the Great Lakes!

What is a rip current?

A rip current is a fast-moving current of water that moves from the shore out to sea. They can be narrow, or hundreds of yards wide, depending on the conditions. If you are caught in a rip current, it will pull you out to sea, but not underwater. That is why floating and/or staying calm is imperative to your survival.

You can always see a rip current from shore, right?

No, not always. You can look for signs, such as churning water, murky water, or excess foam or seaweed. If most of the water has normal waves rolling in and the water is clear, but there is a section that appears darker, or the waves are choppier, chances are the latter area is indeed a rip current.

I’m pretty much the best swimmer. Ever. I’ll be fine…right?

Wrong. A rip current would give Michael Phelps a run for his money. Some rip currents have been recorded moving at speeds of eight feet per second! Just as fast as you got into a rip current, you can get out of it, but the shear speed of the water might alarm you. As difficult as it may seem, don’t panic!

Forget this, I am never going in the ocean again!

Woah, woah, woah! Don’t be like that. You can go into the ocean, but don’t go into the ocean when A) a large storm, especially a tropical storm or hurricane is coming or going B) if other people are getting rescued by lifeguards due to a rip current, or C) there are red, “no swimming” flags flying along the shoreline and/or at the lifeguard stand.

OMG I DIDN’T LISTEN, I AM STUCK IN A RIP CURRENT!

  1. Keep calm, and breathe.
  2. DO NOT try to swim towards shore. You will be swimming against the current, and that will exhaust your energy.
  3. Instead, swim out of the current, parallel to the shore.
  4. Once you are out of the current, you can then swim into shore.
  5. If you cannot get out of the current, tread water, or float. (Floating will conserve the most energy.) Eventually, you will be out of the current, and then you can swim to shore. Don’t be afraid by how far offshore you may seem to be.
  6. If you absolutely cannot get out of the rip current, face the shoreline, yell, and wave your arms to get the attention of a lifeguard.
  7. Do not panic. Do not think about how you just watched  Jaws. Think happy, peaceful thoughts.

Phew, I made it out! So what should I do next time to prevent getting caught in a rip current?

  • Check your local weather or a weather app. It will say if there is a rip current warning, and where. It is best to avoid that area.
  • Swim where there are lifeguards present. It is nice to have someone watching over you who has been trained and knows the proper procedures, and CPR if necessary.
  • If you think there might be a rip current, ask the on-duty lifeguard to see if he or she agrees, and what their recommendations are.
  • Wearing polarized sunglasses may help to see the differences between the regular water, and the rip currents.

If someone else is in trouble, call 9-1-1 or run to a lifeguard. Even in unguarded areas, there may be a buoy that you can throw to the person in trouble. If you go after the person, you may become caught in the rip current yourself, putting you both in jeopardy.

life ring flotation device beach safety

Safe Swimming!

Beach Safety 101

At the beach, it is easy to feel relaxed. The soothing sound of the ebb and flow of the ocean mixed with the warm, tropical breeze can take all the worries away. You want to let go, feel like you are away from it all. The one thing, however, you should never let go of is your personal awareness of what is going on around you.

Despite the fact that we want to believe that sunshine chases all the evils away, unfortunately it can bring many criminal moths to the flame. Bad things unfortunately do happen in beautiful, breathtaking settings.

macarthur beach safety

Most beaches will have a sign that will remind you to make sure all of your valuables are locked away; these signs exist for a reason. I once read that law enforcement officials believe that a clean car is a safe car; if there is nothing in view to tempt the thugs and thieves , they will move on to the next car.

Criminals know that once you leave your car for the beach, you probably won’t be returning for a while. Most of the time  your car won’t be within your sight. The criminals know this. There will usually be a lookout, watching the lot, and looking for certain things that will tip them off to some goodies.

For example, ladies if you store your purse somewhere in the car, then you will be walking out of the car without a purse, which will raise a flag to the criminal lookout to know to look in the car for a purse! (This scenario has happened to me.)

Another scenario I witnessed was a gentleman who left his shorts on the passenger’s seat of his car. When he returned to his car after a mere fifteen minutes, his passenger window was smashed in, and the shorts were gone. Luckily, nothing of value was in the shorts, but it was mind boggling to think that someone had just smashed his window in in hopes of something being in the shorts. They stole SHORTS. It was a huge chance that didn’t pay off for them, and ended up causing a headache to the gentleman victim. If there would have been a purse, smartphone, or mp3 player within view, that stuff would have been gone before you  even had a chance to return to the car. Just because the doors are locked, your valuables are still within reach.

People will also be bold and steal something right out of your beach bag or off your beach towel. Broad daylight won’t stop them, so be aware of the people around you. Always have an eye on your things.

Don’t let your day in paradise turn into a nightmare.

Here are some ideas to minimize your chance of being a victim:

  • Don’t Flaunt Your Technology. Don’t walk onto the beach and pull out your shiny new iPhone, your amazing SLR camera, and then run into the water. Now everyone knows you have the good stuff.
  • If You Are With a Group, Don’t Leave Your Beach Camp Unattended. Go to the water’s edge in alternating groups, so that there is always someone with all of the beach bags and stuff.
  • If You Are Alone, leave your stuff in front of the lifeguard stand. Lifeguards are observant, and might notice if someone else goes sniffing around your things.
  • Leave Your Designer Gear at Home. Everyone loves to show off their designer beach gear, but no one likes to lose it. Save the labels for the pool.
  • Lock Valuable Things You Can’t Be Without in the Glove Box. If your glove box has a lock, put things like credit cards, etc. in there. Place them between the pages of a car manual. The longer a thief sees a prospective robbery taking, the lower the chance they will take the risk.
  • Make Sure Your Car is Secure. Double check the locks, double click your alarm system so the whole parking lot can hear it beep-beep.
  • Check on Your Car Often. Sometimes it’s not a bad idea to run back to the car and make sure nothing sketchy is going down, either to your car or someone else’s. It takes a village.
  • Park Where There is Security. Park where there is an attendant, where there are workers, and near other cars. There is safety in numbers.
  • Keep Things Out of Sight. Whether it is your car, or your beach blanket, don’t leave things out in plain view. Leaving something as simple as a car charger may signal to a thief that there is a phone somewhere to be found.
  • Don’t Even Risk It. Whatever you truly do not need with you at the beach, leave at home.
  • Always Trust Your Instincts. If a place is giving you bad vibes, turn around right then and there, and go somewhere else. Don’t take a chance if your inner voice is telling you something is wrong.

Don’t let other people kill your jive, be thoughtful and prepared and you should have a great time! This is not the time or place to figure out if ignorance yields bliss, because that could mean you could lose something you will really miss.

beach safety lock autos tips

 

Jellyfish: What to Do if You Get Stung

Pictured above are the stunning moon jellyfish, one of the most common jellyfish species in our oceans. Most of the time, these jellyfish won’t sting humans, but there are plenty of jellyfish who will if they feel threatened.

If you are going to swim in the ocean, it is important to know how to handle a jellyfish sting in order to minimize the discomfort and maximize calmness.

Step One: Remove the nematocysts (venomous stingers). Do this by first washing away any tentacles still stuck to you with salt water. Do not use fresh water.

The Mayo Clinic recommends that you use credit cards to brush off any nematocysts still stuck in your skin. If you use your fingers, you may get stung, and if you use any fabric, you may release more venom.

Step Two: Deactivate Nematocysts. You have two options that the Mayo Clinic recommends for this.

1) Rinse the affected area with generous amounts of vinegar for 30 seconds.

2) Mix salt water and baking soda to create a paste to apply to the affected area. (This is recommended for Portuguese Man-O-War and Sea Nettle stings.)

Step Three: Soothe the pain. Calamine lotion or other anti-itch lotions will soothe the irritation. Physicians are still debating whether or not warm water or cool water is the best way to soak your sting. Talk to a doctor to find out the best way to deal with your discomfort.

 

Jellyfish stings can range in severity. It can take anywhere from a few weeks or even a few months for a jellyfish sting to go away completely.

A “standard” jellyfish sting will include immediate burning pain, marks on the skin that will show where the tentacle came into contact (can be purplish, red, or brown), itching, tingling, numbness, radiating throbbing pain.

Severe jellyfish stings require immediate medical attention, especially if the person was stung all over. Reactions to jellyfish stings can occur immediately or over the course of a few hours.

Severe symptoms include nausea, vomiting, headache, muscle spasms, weakness, dizziness, fever, loss of consciousness, irregular heartbeat, and more.*

 

Jellyfish are common, but most of the time they are content going on about their jellyfish lives and not stinging you. If you do come in to contact with one, do not panic! Stay calm, and retreat to shore if you can.

Most beaches will have a conditions chart where the lifeguard will write the daily sea conditions. (This can be found either on the lifeguard stand, or at the entrance to the beach.) This will usually include if there are any sea pests or dangerous marine life in the area. Always check this before you continue on to the beach!

If the beach you are going to does not have a conditions chart, exercise even greater caution.

If you are fascinated by jellyfish, or if you want to know which jellies have been spotted in your area, then check out JellyWatch. This excellent organization provides information on jellyfish sightings throughout the world. You can even add your own jellyfish sighting if you want!

Don’t fear the jelly!

 

*Information provided thanks to the research and expertise of the Mayo Clinic. The Beach Review is not written by a medical physician, and should not be used as a substitute to professional medical advice. Seek a medical professional if you or someone else is experiencing a severe jellyfish reaction.