Your Concierge Physician’s Newsletter Part 4 Beach Safety

July 6, 2014


We are fortunate to have beautiful beaches locally. With just a few precautions you can have a safe and enjoyable day at one of our beaches. Currently we have an abundance of stingray. I have seen several patients who have had stingray injuries. If you get a stingray wound you should irrigate it while still in the ocean to try to remove any fragments of the spine and then get out of the water. Apply pressure above the wound if it is bleeding. Hot water will inactivate any of the remaining venom in the wound and may relieve pain. Apply a hotpack if the wound is still bleeding. Gently remove any obvious pieces of spine. Do not remove pieces of the spine if they are lodged in your neck chest or abdomen. Clean the wound with soap and water. Apply a ddressing. Do not tape it closed. Go to the emergency room. Be sure to immediately call 911 if the person has symptoms of a severe allergic reaction such as difficulty breathing, fast pulse, dizziness, loss of consciousness, tightness in the throat, itching or nausea.

When you get to the beach you can check with the lifeguard on duty and ask where is the best spot to swim . Rip currents are narrow channels that can pull swimmers out into deeper waters. They can be difficult to spot. Look for water that is churning and choppy, a break in the wave pattern, water of a different color or a line of foam moving seaward. If you get caught in a rip current you should stay calm and swim parallel to the shore to exit the current. If you can’t escape,  float and wait for the lifeguard. Rip currents can also create uneven areas on the ocean bottom. You may be standing in waist deep water and get submerged by taking one step forward. If a big wave is forming  dive down headfirst towards the wave with your arms in front of you and touch the sand with your hands then you will know you are deep enough below the surface to let the wave pass and returned to the surface. If a wave catches you off guard and pushes you over hold your breath and curl up into a ball protecting your head with your hands. Just go with the wave and you will float back up. You can stand up as soon as you feel the wave has calmed down around you. If someone else appears to be in trouble alert the lifeguard. If there is no lifeguard have someone call 911. If there are no obvious dangers and there is a flotation device you can swim to the victim. Do not try to save someone even a small child without a flotation device.

Savor the summer.

As your concierge doctor I welcome your comments, questions and suggestions.