Summer is hot, hot, hot! There’s a lot of things you can do to enjoy this season. If you’re planning to take a drive to a nearby beach, you might find yourself longing to jump right in that big blue. An ocean is not like most bodies of water: it is open water that comes with all volumes of waves and currents. I have talked to several people who told me they’re scared to swim in the ocean, but this should not stop you from enjoying the summer.
Swimming in the ocean does not have to appear scary or intimidating to inexperienced ocean swimmers. I do recommend one thing before stepping out of that shoreline: do not go in if you cannot swim at all. If you’re experienced in swimming, you can take that initiative to enjoy the ocean, but there are still somethings to look after if you’re going in that ocean.
The Dangers of Swimming
Swimming in an ocean is dangerous, honestly. Drowning is one of the biggest consequences of swimming out there and it even happens to experienced swimmers. You can also hurt yourself if you crash into a rock, step on sharp seashells, get stung by a jelly, get swept away by waves if there is a rip current, etc.
Important Things To Remember To Feel Safer in the Ocean
1. First and foremost: Always wear sunscreen and the right sun protection.
Try considering using a sunscreen that isn’t harmful to the reef. You want to avoid those that contain chemicals such as oxybenzone and octinoxate. This law will be in effect by January 1, 2021, but it is best to start preventing from harming the reefs by following this practice. It is highly recommended by dermatologists to use a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 and that will block 97% of the sun’s UVB rays. The most important thing to remember when using a sunscreen is that you’ll prevent skin cancer and sunburns — those are no fun.
2. Don’t go out too far in the ocean.
There will most likely not always be buoys or visible ropes to remind people to not go past them. You just need to use your common sense to not get too far and deep into the ocean. Try to just stay wherever your waist meets but not higher than that if the waves are not calm. Waves can get high and if you are not prepared to swim under when a strong and high wave comes, don’t try to go farther.
3. Swim where the lifeguards are visible.
If you are not confident and comfortable to swim at all in the ocean but want to take that dip, try to swim in the area right where lifeguards can see you ahead and are present. Not all beaches have lifeguards on duty, so people swim on their own risk.
4. Always keep calm.
If you go into the ocean feeling unease and not sure what kind of territory you’re stepping into, you should always remain calm and not frantic. If you think more about how the ocean can hurt you or if a shark will attack under you, you will not have a good time and have a higher risk of harming yourself out there.
5. Never swim alone in the ocean if you are not used to it.
Swimming alone seems like a relaxing time, but if you are a beginner by the sea, always try to have a friend or someone else in your company of swimming.
6. Learn about the conditions of the ocean before going in.
Research and pay attention to the news or any signs that warn you about the conditions of a beach. There may be warnings of rip currents, strong winds, weather changes, shark sightings, and more. You should always do some digging around if a lifeguard isn’t there to warn beach-goers for your safety and others’. Weather changes such as outpouring rain, while there’s lightning, is not a clear time to go swimming.
7. Be aware of your surroundings and waves.
Waves can be dangerous no matter how high or low they get. As a Jersey girl, I am used to swimming by waves that can get suddenly high and harsh. Sometimes, it is fun to jump up on waves. However, the higher they get, you need to learn when to hold your breath and swim under. It takes time and practice to sometimes do this, but this will help you prevent from drowning and swallowing seawater.
Be aware of your surroundings as well besides the waves. If you’re by big rocks or anything obstructing your way by the sea, do not stay close by them and swim next to them. It will lower your risk of injury. Seashells are also annoying to step on if they’re sharp or if there are many of them. Try to step away from them as possible or wear protective shoes meant for use in the water.
8. Reduce the risk of Swimmer’s Ear.
You need to make sure you can keep your ears dry as possible after a swim to reduce swimmer’s ear, an infection of the outer ear canal caused from remaining water in the ear that creates a moist environment for bacteria growth. You can shake or tilt your head and make sure water gets drained out from gravity. You can use a clean towel and rub it outside of your ears. I would also make sure to have ear drops in hand and use them right after a swim, which you can buy over-the-counter or you can create your own! To create your own ear drop, mix a solution of half rubbing alcohol and half white vinegar then place 5 to 10 drops into each ear after swimming.
In conclusion, you have to watch your back and be smart in the ocean. The ocean is a never-ending, big place and it is so easy to get hurt out there. Summer activities should not make you feel sick, unsafe, and generally harmed. Your safety is always a priority by the beach and there’s no better way to enjoy the beach than knowing what you’re putting yourself into.