- Many people enjoy beach days in summer, but as an older person there are some safety tips to keep in mind
- Sun safety, water safety, staying hydrated and staying cool are all important
- Remembering your own safety will allow you to enjoy every beach day to the fullest
To enjoy all of this Australian goodness to the fullest as an older person, going out for some fun in the sun, there are some safety measures you should keep in mind.
Harsh sunlight can be dangerous and the sun is often at its harshest during the middle of the day – often prime time to go to the beach. Additionally, being in the water doesn’t save you from the UV rays, as the glare of the sun reflects up at you off the water.
We all know the sun safety words for protecting your skin – slip, slop, slap, seek and slide.
So make sure you slip on protective clothing, slop on water-resistant sunscreen – reapplying every two hours, slap on a broad-brimmed hat, seek the shade – bring your own umbrella, and slide on those UV protective sunglasses.
Older people are more susceptible to skin cancer, sunburn and other sun-related damage, but following the sun protection rules will mean you can enjoy the beach for longer.
You can learn more about sun safety in our article, ‘Slip, slop, slap: Staying sun safe as an older person‘.
You need to be a strong swimmer if you are going into the water past your knees, because many Australian beaches have rips that are difficult to detect and will pull you out to sea quickly, endangering your life.
Even if you were a strong swimmer when you were younger, seriously consider whether you would still have the strength and stamina to get yourself out of trouble before taking to the water.
Don’t go swimming alone – make sure someone else is always out there with you in case you need help from them, or so they can call for help from a lifeguard if needed.
It can be important to go to a beach that has lifeguards available and to swim between the red safety flags.
Also, be aware of what could be in the water. Older people have skin that is thinner and more susceptible to cuts or abrasions from underwater objects such as shells or rocks.
Hydration and temperature
When you’re out in the sun – or even the shade – on the beach it can be difficult to remember that you need even more water to prevent dehydration and keep your body functioning as it should.
Older people need to regularly drink about six to eight glasses of water a day – and that’s if you’re going about normal activities, so more is needed when you’re dehydrating out in the sun and sea.
Drink plenty of water (fresh water that is, not saltwater!) throughout your beach day, and understand the impact any medications you are taking may have on the amount of water you need to drink.
It can help to keep the water cool in an esky or similar insulation to cool down the temperature of your body as well and avoid heat stroke.
What you wear to the beach can be important for keeping you safe as well.
Wear loose but light clothing to stay cool and protected from the sun, and if you do take your clothing off to go in the water consider wearing a rashie with sleeves for protection, then put your clothing back on as soon as you get out of the water.
The water can be cold, even in summer, as the ocean takes months of hot weather to heat up the vast amount of water. If you find the water too cold you might consider wearing a zip up wetsuit vest to keep your body temperature up while swimming, or you could just dip your feet in – but make sure to keep that protective clothing on if you do.
Health and mobility
If you have mobility issues you can still visit the beach, but it might be helpful to wear beach shoes for more stability on the sand and in the water to prevent trips and falls. Shoes have the added protection factor of preventing shells and rocks from cutting your feet.
Of course if you are unsteady on your feet, having someone with you to help you move around is still advised, and there are some beaches which also enable you to take your walker, wheelchair or gofer onto the sand along special paths.
Older people with medical conditions that may be impacted by beach activities – such as diabetes or a heart condition – will likely benefit from also wearing a medical identification bracelet. If there is a medical event while you have no other personal items with you, such as emergency contact information or your phone, then at least the bracelet will tell a first responder about your condition.
Keeping all of these safety tips in mind will ensure you can enjoy your beach day to the fullest.
How do you stay safe at the beach? Share your other tips in the comments below.