Lying on a sandy beach and then swimming in the sea is the chief vacation activity of millions of Americans. And yet few of them pay heed to the safety issues they sometimes confront. These fall into two areas: the security of valuable possessions (purse or wallet, credit card and cash) left on the beach while the owner goes to swim, and the safety of actually swimming (avoiding riptides, in particular).
A long-experienced official of a tech firm focused on home security (Lauren Vingiano, business development manager for the Canary organization) has written extensively about beach safety. She recently appeared on the radio travel program I conduct with my daughter, and provided much valuable advice, which I have set forth below:
Avoiding riptides while swimming off the beach: This danger, more prevalent than often is imagined, can best be thwarted by asking advice of the lifeguards who often patrol stretches of the beach. They tend to be extremely knowledgeable about ocean tides, but too seldom are they asked by swimmers whether a danger currently exists in their particular location. It’s important to confer with them before you stride into the sea. You also should be aware of unusual surface conditions that sometimes signal the existence of riptides – strange ripples on the edge of the water, a strong brown cast to the water caused by ocean sands disrupted from their local position. If something looks unusual about the state of the waters, that stretch of water is best avoided.
How about the safeguarding of your valuables at the beach? Lauren suggests, mainly, that you leave your valuables at home; to only bring a single credit card to the beach, thus reducing the consequences of a thief stealing your personal items while you are swimming in the sea. Sometimes, she points out, wise travelers empty out a bottle of sunscreen and place their valuables in it, thus fooling a would-be thief into believing there are no valuables on the beach towel you have left on the beach while you swim.
She also points out that waterproof pouches can be bought to safeguard your valuables, which remain attached to the waistband of your swimming suit while you swim.
More thefts occur on a beach than is commonly realized. That’s because the good feeling of being there causes people to overlook the danger of leaving valuables behind while they swim.
Arthur Frommer is the founder of the Frommer’s Travel Guide book series. Find more destinations and read his blog at frommers.com.