While the beach can be fun and relaxing, there are also potential dangers. Here are several tips to help beachgoers avoid hazards.
Sunburn – Overexposure to the sun can be uncomfortable but easily avoided. Try to limit exposure during the peak hours of 10:00 A.M. to 2:00 P.M. Always wear sunscreen of at least SPF 15 and stay out of direct sunlight when possible. Wearing a large brimmed hat and t-shirt is also helpful.
Vehicles – Driving is allowed on most North Padre beaches so always look both ways when walking across driving areas and keep a close eye on children when around vehicles.
Car stuck in sand – Try to drive only were other vehicles are driving and always keep an eye out for soft sand areas to avoid getting stuck. Always carry a shovel and car jack to help you dig out if necessary. Never park to close to the water and keep an eye out for rising tides that can engulf your car or make the water table rise enough under your vehicle to were your tires spin and you bottom out.
Broken glass and shells – Keep an eye out for sharp sea shells and broken glass when walking barefoot. Wear sandals or shoes to avoid stepping on something sharp.
Swimming – Always swim with someone, never alone, and stay close to others while in the water. Watch out for undertows and rough conditions, especially near piers and jetties where currents can be strong, and try to get information on the beach and surf before venturing into the water. Keep an eye on children and try to stay close to lifeguards if there is one in the area.
Jellyfish – The sting of these creatures can be mild to very painful. One of the most common on Padre Island is the man-of-war jellyfish. They usually can be easily spotted floating on the water but can have tenticles dragging behind them for several yards, so keep your distance and always have an eye out for them and other jellyfish when in the water. If you are stung, meat tenderizer helps to relieve the pain, but if not available, submerging the affected area in seawater can also help.
Stingrays – These fish rest on the bottom and can come very close to shore. They are most plentiful in August and summer months but can be around most anytime of the year. They have a barb in their tail that they can stick in you if you accidently step on one. The best defense is to always drag your feet when walking in shallow water so that they may scurry away before you step on one. If you do unfortunately step on one, apply heat to the foot or affected area, or dip in warm/ hot water to relieve the painful poison. Also, see a doctor as soon as possible to remove any part of the barb that may be embedded in the skin to avoid infection.
Sharks – Are one of the most feared creatures in the sea but are rare close to shore and are usually of the smaller variety if seen. They are attracted to blood so stay out of the water if you have a wound or are bleeding at all. Try to keep splashing and noises to a minimum and do not wear bright colored swimwear or shiny, reflective jewelry when in the water.