Florida Beach Safety: Five Tips to Stay Safe in a Riptide

Florida Beach Safety: Five Tips to Stay Safe in a Riptide

 

Earlier this week, an inspiring story of fifty beach goers that built a human chain to rescue a family caught in a riptide made the headlines. Luckily, the family made it to safety thanks to the quick thinking of good samaritans and you can too with these tips to surviving a riptide.

Believe it or not, the biggest dangers at the beach are not sharks. Although, those stories do get quite a bit of attention thanks to films like Jaws and shows like Shark Week.

Here is a list of dangers and signs to pay attention to while enjoying Florida’s beaches:

Here’s your sign— You may have noticed flags waving in the wind while sunning in the sand. Here’s a handy guide of what the flags mean.

Double Red – Danger! Water Closed to Public

Single Red – High Hazard, High Surf and/or Strong Currents

Yellow – Medium Hazard, Moderate Surf and/or Currents

Green – Low Hazard, Calm Conditions, Exercise Caution

Purple – Dangerous Marine Life (Usually Jellyfish)

Go with the flow— If you find yourself caught in a riptide or rip current (which can happen rather fast) you need avoid panic and know what to do. One telltale sign is a long line of foam or seaweed that is floating along the shallower shoreline or moving rapidly along a channel inside of waves that are breaking.

Exit please—One telltale sign of a rip current or riptide is a very strong pull where it’s less expected—shallow waters. Rip currents or riptides generally occur fast and are short-lived (most riptides are typically shorter than 30 feet in wide and less than 200 feet in length). Even the strongest of swimmers can be quickly swept away by fighting the current. Instead, swim parallel to the shoreline and avoid trying to swim as fast as Phelps’ in an Olympic heat.

Lastly, always pay attention to weather warnings, follow the rules of the lifeguards and be aware that the ocean is a fun but a day at the beach can turn dangerous in an instant.

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Signs of Dehydration and Tips on Staying Hydrated

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Dehydration is a common problem during the summer months and if left untreated can lead to serious health issues ranging from heat exhaustion to blood clots to even seizures. It’s easy to get dehydrated when temperatures soar into the 90s and above.

Dehydration happens when the body does not have enough fluids to sweat or function properly. The most obvious signs of dehydration include thirst and sluggishness, but there are other indicators that are less known.

Here is a list of signs of dehydration that are less obvious.

Skin test.     Your skin is one of the biggest indicators of dehydration. In addition to red or “flushed” skin tone, you can actually try the pinch test. Simply pull back about 1/2 inch of skin around or near the back of your wrist. Look for skin that stays raised like a dome for approximately 7-10 seconds. If it does, you are already experiencing the signs of mild dehydration and should slam a bottle of water STAT.

Stinky breath.     We are not trying to be mean but if your breath is kickin’ you may need to pay attention to your hydration. A lack of saliva is a common sign of dehydration and can mean that your body is having trouble making saliva. Little known fact: saliva contains antibacterial properties.

Cramping up.     Those muscle cramps might not just be from exercise or too much movement during the day. Muscle cramps are an indicator that your body is missing important electrolytes such as potassium and sodium.

Chills or fever.     In spite of the heat if you suffering from dehydration you may experience chills. This could also lead to an actual fever. These are more severe signs of sever dehydration so seek shade and fluids immediately.

Sweet tooth.     When the body is short on glycogens, you will seek something sweet to drink (soda) or eat. This is because your body is in need of nutrients and is trying to overcompensate. This would explain why you might crave a sugary soda. However, water is best and sugary sodas will only temporarily take care of these cravings. If you are “starving” try eating foods that contain lots of water such as celery, watermelon and even yogurt could get you back on track.

Headache or migraines.     There is a fluid sack that protects your brain from hitting your skull. If your head is hurting, that fluid sack is in dire need of water as well.

Avoid dehydration by sipping water throughout the day and during meals. Additionally, eat foods that contain lots of water in them such as celery, or any fruit in the melon family such as cantaloupes and as mentioned earlier, yogurt. You will want to consume at least a half gallon of water per day or eight 8-ounce glasses of water.

Boating and Watercraft Safety Tips You Need to Take Onboard

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It’s that time of year again when Florida’s beaches and waterways will become crowded with boats, jet skis and other recreational vehicles on the water. ​Increased traffic also brings additional risk and dangers associate with boating and recreational watercraft accidents.

The three biggest accidents that can lead to death or injury on the water include: a capsized boat, a passenger that goes overboard, or when one boat collides with another, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

Before you hit the waterways this summer take these “must-do” safety tips onboard.

Life jackets—  Think of life jackets as the seat belts of the waterways. Each soul aboard your watercraft needs a Coast-Guard approved life jacket. Here’s why: in 2014 78% of boating deaths were attributed to drowning and nearly 84% of those that drowned were not wearing a life jacket.

Create a checklist before departure—   Check the weather before heading out, have a tool box for quick or needed repairs and a well-stocked first aid kit.

Changes in weather—   Florida thunderstorms can form quickly so pay attention to any changes in weather. Drastic changes in wind speed or dark, gray clouds are signs that you should get off the water right away.

Consider a safety course—   It’s worth every penny and your time. Check into local courses offered at your nearby marina.

Designate and skip the booze—   Alcohol can inhibit decision making and you need your wits about you on the water where the risks are much higher.

New Study Sheds a Little Light on Mobile Homes and Tornadoes

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Each year, the US leads the world in at least one non-brag factor—we have the most tornadoes. An estimated 1,200 twisters touch down each year and with the mercurial climate changes headed will yield more flooding and challenges for homeowners.

Adding to the worry over weather, those that also own or mobile homes face even bigger risks than just the average Florida homeowner, according to a study from Michigan State University. 

It’s no epiphany that mobile homes or manufactured homes are the most susceptible to the worst weather including hurricanes, severe thunderstorms and of course, tornadoes. Over the next couple of decades, mobile homes are expected to feel the most wrath of the worst weather, say researchers.

The study’s most startling findings included:

  • Poverty level and the building quality of homes were very important factors when determining the number of fatalities.
  • There are currently 9 million mobile homes or manufactured housing in the US.
  • We still have much to learn about how to curb tornado-related fatalities as little research has been done to determine how to save more lives where it strikes.

For ways that you can be prepared BEFORE a tornado hits check out our blog on Tornado Preparedness Tips 

 

Florida Tornado Preparedness and Safety Tips

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Florida ranks the highest for tornadoes based on frequency over each 10,000 square miles, according to FloridaDisaster.org. Yes, those particular stats even rival Oklahoma and Kansas. If that stat wasn’t frightening for Florida homeowners tornadoes can also form from hurricanes.

Given that these stats would frighten Dorothy out of her own signature ruby slippers and send Toto running, we put together a list of:

Florida Tornado Preparedness and Safety Tips—

At Home:        Unlike hurricanes, tornadoes leave no time for prep so having an escape plan and emergency kit are essential. Let’s start with your emergency kit. Your kit should include: an emergency with NOAA Weather Alert, enough canned goods or non-perishable foods for at least 5 days, bottled water, a first-aid kit, a supply of medicine, a copy of important documents such as your homeowners insurance policy.

NOTE—if you live in a mobile home find shelter in a sturdy building or tornado shelter nearby and better yet…know where your closest shelter is before disaster strikes.

The safest place in your home is an interior room without windows. If you don’t have a basement, that room will typically be a closet or bathroom. Practice tornado drills and designate someone to corral pets and bring them with you into that designated area. Additionally, designate an adult or family friend as a point of contact should you become separated and a place to meet when the danger has passed.

Inside Your Car:        If you happen to be driving do not try to outrun the tornado. Instead, seek out a strong structure or sturdy building and get out of your car. If it’s too late, get out of your car and seek out a ditch or the lowest ground area nearby.

Lastly, know the difference between a tornado watch and tornado warning. A tornado WATCH means that the current weather conditions could produce tornadoes. A tornado WARNING means that a tornado is imminent or one might form in the area. Basically, a warning is more dangerous and if sirens are nearby will usually sound off. Once that happens, seek shelter immediately and take your weather radio with you to your safe place.

8 Outdoor Holiday Decorating Safety Tips

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year, but it’s also the time of year when the danger of house fires is at its peak. One way homeowners can prevent electrical safety hazards is by following these safety tips for hanging outdoor Christmas lights.

Here is a list of 8 ways to protect your home from electrical fires:

  1. Always check labels on outdoor electrical lights to make sure they are labeled and safe for outdoor use. This also applies to extension cords as well. If it’s not labeled for outdoor use, take it inside.

2. All outdoor strings of lights or outdoor extension cords should have the Underwriters Laboratory (UL) label.

3. Examine each string of lights making sure to check for broken sockets, frayed cords or loose connections. If possible replace, if not, better to discard and replace the whole string rather than risk a fire.

4. Never connect more than 3 cords or strings of lights together.

5. Never use metal to hang electrical cords such as nails, tacks or any type of metal wiring. Instead, purchase plastic clips that securely and safely fasten strings of lights onto your home.

6. Keep cords against sidewalks and out of the walkway and paths where they could cause a tripping hazard. Additionally, be mindful of puddles of water nearby extension cords.

7. Ladder safety is a huge concern with many falls related to an improperly placed ladder or improper use of a ladder. Never use a chair or any piece of furniture to reach high places. Straight or extension ladders should be positioned around one foot away from where it rests.

8. Additionally, never adjust your body by leaning back. Instead, adjust the position of the ladder and always turn off all lights before going to bed. Better yet, invest in a timer and set the lights to go off while you turn in for the night.

Top 8 Most Dangerous People Foods for Dogs

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Some of the most innocent and healthy foods for humans can be deadly for fido.  The increased risk of your pet ingesting what is harmless to humans but deadly to your dog goes up during the Halloween and holiday season.

Here are some friendly reminders to keep your pet safe from these toxins year round at home.

1. Chocolate   This popular confection is yummy during Halloween but should be kept out of reach of sniffing noses.  Bakers chocolate poses an even higher danger for small dogs and dogs of any size. Even a small amount can lead to toxicosis and death.

2. Coffee    Your dog has enough energy and caffeine in pets is a huge no-no. Again, it’s the toxicosis that is the biggest threat.

3. Chicken Bones   Chicken bones can splinter and could case your dog to choke. Unlike beef bones which contain marrow channels, chicken bones are hollow.

4. Alcohol  Dogs have just as much trouble digesting alcohol as a human and can lead to cardiac arrest due to acidosis.

5. Onion   Not only are onions bad but onion powder in your favorite sauces can cause anemia in your dog.

6. Grapes or Raisins   Healthy snack for human companions but very unhealthy for pups and could lead to renal failure.

7. Macadamia Nuts    Popular in granola bars, cookies and just on their own, are poisonous to dogs.

8. Raw Meats    Dogs might be a pack animal and a distant cousin to wolves but their stomachs have gotten pretty used to the good life.  Bacteria in raw meats are not digestible to the domesticated dog.