Note: The Florida Department of Health has also recently provided updated literature on beach safety information and information about vibrio vulnificus.
Safety At the Beach
Rip tides are unusually strong currents that run perpendicular to the shore and can be very dangerous. If you're caught in one, don't panic or try to swim back to shore against the tide. Swim parallel to shore until you are out of the current or it has subsided, then return to shore.
Stingrays and Sharks
Stingrays frequent our beaches during warm months. To avoid them, shuffle your feet through the sand. If you're stung, soak the area in hot water. Seek medical attention if the ray's barb breaks off into the skin.
Sharks are present in Southwest Florida waters, but you can avoid an encounter by not swimming at dusk or dawn. If a shark does approach, stay calm, let it swim past, then get out of the water.
Red tide is a naturally occurring algae that blooms and can kill marine life and cause respiratory irritations in humans. People with respiratory problems should avoid the beach when red tide is present.
On Dry Land
Stay hydrated and alert to symptoms of heat exhaustion. If you begin sweating heavily or experience muscle cramps, weakness, dizziness, nausea or vomiting, get help immediately. During hot weather, limit strenuous outdoor activities to the early morning or evening.
Insect Bites / Stings
Fire ants, wasps and bees inflict painful, burning stings that can usually be treated with topical creams and antihistamines. If you have trouble breathing or swallowing after an insect encounter, seek medical attention immediately.
Florida is the lightning capital of the world. Lightning can travel 10 miles in advance of an approaching storm, so if you hear thunder, go indoors. Golf clubs, fishing rods and tennis racquets can act as lightning rods. If you can't find safe shelter, remember that lightning strikes the tallest object in an area, so make yourself the smallest.
Sarasota County's mixture of flora and fauna is a feast for the senses, but do take care with our natural attractions. Below are some helpful tips for enjoying Southwest Florida.
- Apply a sunscreen of at least SPF 15 about 30 minutes before going outdoors and reapply often.
- Stay indoors or shaded during peak daylight hours.
- Wear proper protective clothing, a hat and sunglasses.
- Drink plenty of water.