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Beach safety tips

Lifeguards save over 70,000 lives each year, but parents shouldn’t rely solely on lifeguards to keep their kids safe at the pool or the beach.
How can you keep your kids safe at the pool?
Make sure you really know your kid’s swimming abilities especially since they may not have been swimming for a year. Test their swimming abilities before you let them go in the deep end by themselves.
What are the hidden dangers at the beach?
Only allow your kids to swim in approved swimming areas with lifeguards on duty. Teach your children about riptides and undertows and what to do if caught in either. When coming to any open water environment, ask the lifeguard about the day’s conditions so you know what to expect. If there are strong riptides or no lifeguard, don’t go in the water. If caught in a current pulling you out to sea, stay relaxed and swim parallel to the beach all the while trying to swim closer to it. If you get tired, wave to the lifeguard.

Sun safety

Overexposure to the sun can be harmful. The ultraviolet portion of sunlight is an invisible radiation that can change the structure of skin cells. Exposure to UV rays appears to be the most important factor in the development of skin cancer. More than one million people each year are diagnosed with skin cancer, and this year alone, more than 50,000 people will find out that they have melanoma, one of the most common forms of cancer. So the best thing you can do for your kids is prevent early sunburns. The rays of the sun are at their strongest from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., so be especially mindful during that time.

Make sure kids (and adults) wear a minimum sunscreen of SPF 15. It’s a little known fact that sunscreen should be applied at least 20 minutes before any sun exposure, to make sure that the sunscreen is properly absorbed into your skin, and has time to work.
Re-apply sunscreen frequently, especially if kids are going in and out of the water, playing in the sand, etc.
Children should wear protective clothing (even if it’s just a shirt and shorts to pull over their swimsuit) and hats whenever they are in the sun.
How to protect your eyes:
The rise in cataracts and other eye problems such as retinal damage and photokeratitis (sunburn to the eyes, often occurring when water skiing or snow skiing) have been linked to overexposure to the sun’s dangerous ultraviolet rays.
If you’re going to be out in the sun this summer, you should always wear sunglasses with UV treatments (applied to the lenses) blocking at least 99 percent of UVA and UVB radiation. Dark lenses that do not have at least 99 percent UV protection dilate the eye, and allow the ultraviolet rays directly into the pupil, which can cause permanent damage to you eyes. If you have kids, look for ones that are also shatter-resistant.

It may seem like every pair of sunglasses has those stickers on them, but don’t trust them. The only way to guarantee that the sunglasses you are wearing are really UV protected is to buy them from a reputable source. If you buy sunglasses off the street, you can’t guarantee they are properly treated.
Infrared (IR) rays are long wavelength rays, sometimes called "heat waves”. Half of the sun's energy is infrared. IR is stronger at high altitudes. Electric heaters, house radiators, and ordinary light bulbs also emit infrared energy. The rays cause the skin to feel hot and may contribute to the discomfort caused by exposure to bright light.
Because our eyes can't cool themselves easily, IR rays cause eye fatigue and dry up our eyes 'natural moisture. Sunglass lenses protect the eyes from the effects of IR by absorbing the radiation. This may be beneficial to people who wear contact lenses whose eyes tend to dry out easily. It is important to note that there is no scientific evidence to indicate that IR rays are harmful.

Different ultraviolet rays

Ultraviolet rays have shorter wavelengths and more energy than visible light rays. They can have a harmful effect on the eyes immediately or cumulatively from regular exposure over a number of years. The industry has set standards for how much UV may be transmitted (passed) by types of sunglasses.
Ultraviolet (UV) rays are strongest at high altitudes, low latitudes, and in open or reflective environments (like sand, snow, or water). They are also strongest at midday. Scientists divide UV rays into three bands according to wavelength: UVA, UVB, and UVC.

UVA
There is some question about UVA rays' potential for harm to the eyes. However, they have been shown to penetrate the under layers of the skin, causing damage and contributing to the skin's aging. Therefore, it is certainly wise to require protection from them in sunglasses.
UVB
UVB rays, the sunburn rays, are the ones that cause the most concern. They can cause keratitis, which is similar to a sunburn on the eye, and have been linked to the development of cataracts.
UVC
UVC rays are the shortest, the most energetic, and may be the most harmful. Fortunately, they are blocked in the upper atmosphere and never reach the earth. If sunglasses protect against UVB, we can assume they protect against any possible exposure to UVC.
Visible light
Visible light is that part of the sun's energy that you can see. It is made up of a spectrum of colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet. The eye is not equally sensitive to all of these colors. It is most sensitive to yellows and greens which it can see the best. The eye is less sensitive to reds and blues.

Polarized Light

Light radiating from the sun is made up of light waves that vibrate in all directions called unpolarized light.
As light enters the Earth's atmosphere, some of the waves bump into molecules, such as water. When the waves bounce off of these molecules, a strange phenomenon occurs. The light waves begin vibrating on only one plane. These changed light waves are called plane polarized.

Typical levels

A "lumen" is the unit of measurement of a light's brightness. The higher the lumen number, the brighter the light.
 
• Indoor, with artificial light v
    400 lumens
• Sunny day, in the shade v
    1,000 lumens
• Sunny day, on the grass v
    3,500 lumens (comfort limit)
• Concrete highway v
    6,000 to 8,000 lumens
• Beach or ski slopes v
    10,000 to 12,000 lumens
• High altitude snow field v
    Over 12,000 lumens

Risk Factors

The Skin Cancer Foundation reports that special care must be taken if a child has one or more of the following risk factors:
 
• Fair skin
• Freckles
• Blond, red, or light brown hair
• Blue, green, or gray eyes
• A tendency to burn easily, to tan little or not at all
• A tendency to burn before tanning
• A family history of skin cancer
• Lives in a warm, sunny climate
• A large number of moles
• Long periods of daily sun exposure
• Short periods of intense sun exposure

Lighting Glare

Glare can come directly from a light source - like driving toward the sun - or be reflected. At times, the eyes are being subjected to ten to twelve times as much light as they need. When glare reaches these levels, it can be painful. Sunglasses help eliminate glare by absorbing or reflecting light. How much light the lens can absorb or reflect depends on the darkness of the lens and its coating. The amount of light sunglasses should absorb depends on how and where one plans to use them.

Discomforting Glare

This first level of glare usually starts at about 3,000 to 3,500 lumens. The unprotected eye's reaction to discomforting glare is a slight squint. Discomforting glare can occur in any weather, including overcast days. Even this mild glare causes eye fatigue. Lighter eye colors tend to be more sensitive.

Veiling Glare

When light reaches the intensity of about 10,000 lumens, it actually blocks vision. The eye can only see white flashes, such as, light reflecting off car bumpers on a sunny day. It is so intense that it overwhelms the eye with blinding light, masking what is behind the glare. It can seriously impair vision and create dangerous situations when driving, boating, or skiing. Long-term, it causes excessive wear and fatigue on the eyes.

Your Eyes

We expect a lot from our eyes. During a normal day, the eyes will use about the same amount of energy as the legs would use in walking fifty miles. This and the additional burden of glare causes the eyes to strain to see well. Wearing sunglasses will reduce or eliminate this strain, cut the impact of harsh glare and eliminate the need to squint.
Sunglasses also offer protection against something very serious ? ultraviolet radiation (UV).Visual acuity, contrast, and overall sensitivity can be reduced by up to 50%, due to the sun’s sustained bleaching of the photochemical rhodopsin in the rods of the retina. The right sunglasses during the day can block the appropriate light and at night can protect retinal sensitivity.
Many people are just as concerned about the fashion statement sunglasses make. Others are looking for sunglasses for a specific activity like driving, water sports, skiing, or even for target practice.

Some Important Medical Facts About Kids and the Sun:
• Damage to the eye is cumulative, increasing from year to year. So, the earlier children start protecting their eyes, the better.
• Today's children will be exposed to more cumulative UV radiation in their lifetime than any previous generation.
• 50% of a person's total lifetime UV radiation exposure occurs before age 18.
• Exposure to sunlight at an early age appears to be the critical factor in the development of eye cancer. This risk is much more serious when there have been a few episodes of acute sunburn.
• The three basic steps that all of us can take to negate the long-term hazards of UV radiation are to wear sunglasses, hats, and skin protection.

The Ozone Layer: The Disappearing Shield

The upper layer of the earth's atmosphere is often called the "ozone layer." This layer is the critical barrier guarding the earth from harmful UV light. Many believe that certain man-made chemicals have seriously depleted the ozone layer resulting in an increase in the amount of UV radiation reaching the earth. Increased UV radiation could lead to more risk of skin cancer, immune system disorders, cataracts, and other eye problems.

Why Protection Is Necessary

As people spend more time outdoors, concern regarding the potentially harmful effects of sunlight increases. While many people appreciate the importance of using sunscreens to protect their skin, not everyone is quite so careful about choosing sunglasses. The best protection for the eyes against ultraviolet radiation (UV) is optical-quality sunglasses.

Safety in the Sun

It's amazing how many red-bodied people we see lying on the beach, limping into restaurants or, worse yet, waiting in medical centers while visiting the Outer Banks. Yes, we know. The sun feels so good. Combined with the sea air, it seems to have a rejuvenating effect. Actually any form of tan or burn is now considered damaged skin. While we can't stop visitors and Insiders alike from toasting themselves, these tips will help keep you comfortable.
 
• Start out with short periods of sun exposure when you first arrive. It seems as if most visitors initially overdo it and have to be careful for the rest of their stay. The summer sun is pretty intense, and you'd be surprised how much of a burn your skin can get in 20 or 30 minutes on an afternoon in July. We always take our umbrella to the beach to keep our exposure within reasonable levels. You might want to do the same.
• Use ample sunscreen (SPF 15 or higher) whenever you're in the sun for any length of time. We always put an extra coat on our noses, cheeks, lips and any other high- exposure spots. We also apply sunscreen at least 20 minutes before we go out, since it can take a while for it to become fully effective.
• Avoid the hottest parts of the day, from 10 AM until 2 PM, when the sun's rays are the strongest. It's a great time to take a break from the beach and explore some of the other fun things listed in this guide.
• Don't be afraid to cover up on the beach. Just remember: healthy, protected skin is a sign of good sense.

Alcohol

The effects of alcohol can be amplified by the heat and sun of a summer afternoon, so be aware. It's illegal to operate boats or motor vehicles if you've had too much to drink, and enforcement officers keep an eye out for violators, so practice moderation. Alcohol and swimming can be a potentially deadly combination. Even small amounts of alcohol can give you a false sense of security.

 


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Beach safety tips | Sun protection recommendations | Sun protection for body and eyes | Protection from ultraviolet rays | Using sunscreens