Basic swim safety are things most people already know. No diving in the shallow end, no running by the pool, but what about beach safety, specifically Hawaii beach safety. For those of us who grew up by the ocean, a lot of it can seem like common knowledge. But on the other side of the spectrum, you would be surprised to know of how many people who have not yet had the pleasure of experiencing the beauty of the ocean and the beach. For anyone traveling to Hawaii for the first time, you may find there are few things you didn’t know about its beaches.
Hawaii has a world below that is full of life right off the pacific coast. As you can expect, many fascinating creatures, including sharks will forever inhabit the ocean. For many Hawaiians, sharks are considered sacred and representative of their Aumakua or ancestral guardian spirit and should be respected as such. For many of us who live on the Islands know that shark attacks, however rare do exist. As with any ocean activity, having fun should be your focus, however, it doesn't hurt to be mindful and take some precautions before planning to go out into the ocean. Situational awareness is always your best bet. Before you go out, lookout for any beach signs or posted warnings. You can also inquire with the nearby lifeguard for any updates or safety alerts.
Another special creature found along the Hawaiian ocean is the Portuguese Man-o-War. They look very similar to jellyfish although they are not officially categorized as such. These animals have a bubble like structure with royal blue tentacles who's shape is thought to resembling a Portuguese Soldier's helmet. Their stings are rarely fatal to humans, however they do pack quite a stingful punch, speaking from experience. If you feel however that you are experiencing a serious allergic reaction, do seek swift medical attention. Portuguese man o' war are known to propel by winds and ocean currents and travel in groups of sometimes a thousand or more and have distinct patterns of when they tend to drift closer to shore. You can also track this through the lunar calendar, so watch out eight days after a full moon. For more information or specific details on Hawaii ocean safety visit: http://hawaiibeachsafety.com/
Sunscreen is a given for those prone to burning but it is advised for anyone and everyone enjoying Hawaii’s outdoors. Due to the state’s proximity to the equator, the sun rays shine stronger here than most other places in the world and therefore, a lot of us may not be accustomed to it resulting in some pretty serious burns. Good thing aloe vera grows in abundance on the island. Aside from toll it can have on our skin and the increased risk of skin cancer, it’s no fun to be in excruciating pain when you’re trying to enjoy a week away from work or a romantic getaway. Make sure you apply and reapply regularly, and you can continue enjoying some fun in the sun.
Water currents can be deceivingly powerful off the beaches here as well as shore breaks so make sure you are paying attention to signs posted along the beach. Do not take these warnings lightly because they truly can end in a serious injury or even fatality for everyone, especially those who are not strong swimmers. I personally have severely sprained my back doing an involuntary scorpion off the coast of Oahu and has known of a friend who fractured her spine from a very similar circumstance. Ocean patterns can be predicted beforehand and can be found on various ocean safety and surf websites. Make it a point to know before you go and try to plan accordingly.
Coral and sea urchins pose some dangers as well. Coral can be very sharp and with strong currents you might find yourself accidently getting slammed into part of the reef. This can cause bruises, scratches, and occasionally lacerations requiring stitches. Yet the most significant concern is the possibility of infection due to the amount of bacteria on the coral. Make sure to take necessary precautions, cleanse the wound thoroughly, and apply an over the counter antibacterial ointment if you find yourself in this situation. Sea urchin spikes are in fact venomous and omit a toxin when it penetrates the skin. Majority of species are not fatal to humans; however, if you are stabbed by an urchin soak the affected area in the hottest water you can tolerate for 30-90 minutes to counteract the toxin in the most common urchins you’ll find off the coast.
These beach safety tips should help ensure you have an amazing, fun-filled trip to the islands of Hawaii. So pack your swimsuit, take the time to get to know whichever island you’re visiting, and prepare for the precautions you should take and your trip will no doubt be a beautiful getaway.
About the writer:
Sharada grew up in Gilroy, CA about an hour and a half south of San Francisco. She joined the army at the age of 17 and became a medic. She had the lucky opportunity to be stationed in Hawaii for 3 ½ years on the beautiful Island of Oahu. Currently, she lives in El Paso, TX and does freelance writing on the side. She has a particular passion for articles pertaining to animal and habitat conservation. Sharada hopes to one day do marketing and event coordinating for a non-profit organization that supports elephant or marine conservation.
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- Tags: beach, beach safety, coral, Deeper than the Ocean, Maverick In Motion, ocean current, ocean patterns, portuguese man-o-war, sea urchin, sharks, sun screen, vana