Here are some common sense guidelines to enjoying the beach safely. You should always check with a lifeguard for up to date information on rips, stingers and general beach safety. Young children and weak swimmers need to take extra care at surf beaches as the waves and undertows can be much more powerful than they look. As always, sun protection is recommended.
The sun in Australia is intense and caution should be taken when spending long periods of time outdoors. Any sun injury enough to cause tanning will increase your risk of skin cancer and premature aging of the skin. If you are taking medication it is important that you consult your Doctor concerning the chances of photosensitization occurring. Photosensitization is an increased sensitivity to sun exposure, it is a possible side effect of certain medications, including certain kinds of antibiotics, heart and blood pressure medicines, antihistamines and antidepressants.
Things you can do to minimise your chances of getting over exposed to the sun include:
- Wear sunglasses with UV protection
- Wear a hat and a long sleeved shirt (remember that if you can see through the clothing the sun will also get through)
- Take extra precautions between 10am and 3pm when the sun’s rays are most damaging
- Apply sun-screen with sun protection factor (SPF) of 15+ or more and don’t forget to reapply sunscreen every few hours, or more frequently if you are swimming, sweating or toweling off.
The best sunscreens have a sun protection factor of 15+ or more. There are a number of sunscreens on the market in Australia that go up to SPF 50.
It is very difficult to treat sunburn once it has occurred, prevention is the best medicine. If, however, you do end up getting burnt then it is vitally important that you do not expose yourself to further damaging rays. Stay indoors until the burning subsides or pack on the sunscreen and cover up with clothing.
- Always swim or surf at patrolled beaches
- Swim between the red and yellow flags. They mark the safer area for swimming
- Never swim, surf or fish alone
- Read and obey the signs
- Be aware of rip currents (know how to spot one and how to escape from one)
- Don’t swim under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Never run or dive in the water, even if you have checked before as water conditions can change
- If in doubt stay out
- Seek advice from the lifesavers and lifeguards