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Protect Yourself This Beach Season

UPDATED August 13, 2013

By WeatherBug Meteorologists

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It`s beach season again and thousands are flocking to the sandy shores to beat the heat. You might be looking forward to your fun-in-the-sun, but the weather can turn nasty at a moment`s notice.

As you frolic in the water and picnic along the shore, keep watch on the skies overhead. Even if you are experiencing blue skies, the risk of danger is not completely gone.

Lightning is always a risk anywhere you may be. If you hear thunder at any time, it is time to vacate the beach. Lightning can strike up to five miles away from the main storm cloud. Although it is rare, there have been cases cited in which people have been struck by lightning when skies above are clear. On average, lightning kills more than 50 people each year and injures hundreds.

If you happen to get caught in a storm while you are on the beach, seek shelter immediately. Many beaches have a boardwalk or lines of shops nearby. If your car is nearby, you can safely seek shelter there, unless you drive a soft-top convertible. Make sure you close the doors and windows and do not touch any metal surfaces.

If shelter is not readily available, crouch down, put your arms around your knees, tuck your head down and have only your two feet on the ground. Do not stand near poles or metal objects and never stand near or seek shelter under a tree. Most importantly, always follow the instructions given by lifeguards or local authorities.

If you happen to be in a boat as a storm approaches, it is best to head to shore immediately. Monitor the changing weather conditions by utilizing a weather radio or WeatherBug smartphone applications.

The WeatherBug smartphone application includes Spark! Lightning Alerts,a GPS-based lightning detection feature that provides you the location of the closest lightning strike, so you can Know Before the storm hits. Click here for the link to download.

Other weather conditions can impact your beach vacation. The sun`s ultraviolet (UV) rays can be dangerous to the human body. There are two types of UV rays, known as UVA and UVB. UVA can increase the risk of skin cancer, skin aging, and other skin diseases and UVB rays increase the risk of skin cancer and cause painful sunburns.

To protect yourself from these dangers, it is important to apply and re-apply sunscreen, at least SPF-30 if you are fair-skinned. Make sure you get the often overlooked areas, such as the back of your neck, shoulders, feet and the back of your knees. A wide brim hat is also a good idea to wear to protect your head and neck.

Wearing sunglasses is also important. Your eyes can be damaged by the sun`s UV rays, but sunglasses will protect your eyes. It is best to find a pair of sunglasses that absorb at least 90-percent of UV sunlight.

Also pay considerable attention to heat and dehydration. Make sure you and your family are drinking plenty of water, even if you do not feel thirsty. Dehydration can be the start down the road to heat stroke, which could land you in the hospital. Drinking water will help to cool the body as well as keep you hydrated.

The summer months can be a great time for you and your family. Keep yourself and your family protected from the changing forces of Mother Nature and you will find nothing but fun and pleasure from your beach vacation.

Be sure to keep WeatherBug active to receive the latest weather in your neighborhood and get the latest updates anywhere on Twitter.

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Story Image: People enjoying time on the beach at Mustang Island, Texas. (Jeri Pallasch, WeatherBug user)

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