The summer holidays are almost here and whether you are jetting off for the holiday of a lifetime or planning the perfect staycation, learning some first aid skill could come in handy if you encounter any nasty accidents and even save a life! So take a look at our quick guide to staying safe at the beach and what to do in a medical emergency.
Sea and Sand
The beach is the perfect place to kick back, relax and soak up some sun but it can also be home to numerous potential hazards that you need to be aware of:
Heat stroke and heat exhaustion – Even under the protection of parasol, failing to use a high enough factor of sunscreen and not staying adequately hydrated can quickly lead to sun stroke, particularly if we are visiting a country where the temperature is higher than what we are used to. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include; a throbbing headache, quick, shallow breathing, disorientation and dizziness as well as nausea and vomiting. As soon as you recognise these forms of heat injury do everything you can to cool the individual down and contact the emergency services immediately. Ensure you have noted in advance any important numbers especially when you are abroad so that you can get help quickly.
Deep cuts – Most beaches are patrolled and litter is removed but sometimes pieces of glass wash ashore and can be tricky to spot, particularly when hidden by the sand. It is vital when dealing with a deep cut to apply direct pressure to the wound and continue to do so until the bleeding stops. Keep the areas raised above the heart if possible to minimise blood loss. Packing a first aid kit is a clever way to treat minor injuries without the need for a medical specialist. If there is a piece of glass in the wound then DO NOT remove it. Simply continue to apply as much pressure as possible and call the emergency services.
Near-Drowning – The beach can be the perfect place to learn to swim, provided you stay in the shallow, but strong currents can quickly sweep even the most confident of swimmers out further than they would like to be and they can quickly become exhausted trying to make it back to the shore. Victims of a near-drowning need to be treated quickly and they can be identified by shortness of breath, blue and cold skin, coughing and abdominal swelling. Remove their wet clothes and have warm blankets on hand to help increase their body temperature. If they lose consciousness and stop breathing then CPR should be performed immediately by performing chest compressions and breathing into their mouth. Lifeguards are trained in how to do this so if you are not confident in your abilities, they could take over whilst the paramedics arrive. Learning CPR is a skill that is a huge asset and a great investment of your time.