Ah, the beach. For many people, it is a place of relaxation and fun, a place that people come to for vacation with family and friends. In reality though, beaches are places where many, many hazards are lurking just around the corner. Like, seriously, beaches may seem all sand and sunshine but you could die there – not to be too morbid or anything.
Whether it is a small local beach or you are vacationing on a tropical island, all of these locales are riddled with some serious dangers to your health that could kill you immediately or lead to your death down the line. That probably puts a pretty big dark cloud over something that is supposed to be considered fun, right? Well, don’t worry. At least being aware of the fact that you could, err, die on the beach may help you from actually dying on the beach. I mean, if you know that there are hazards that could be harmful and fatal, you’re more likely to be on alert and not fall into a trap, right?
You probably know the obvious dangers like sharks because we’ve all seen Jaws. There are also many less obvious but just as deadly traps that you can fall into without knowing it. Before hitting the beach for a last minute vacation this summer, check out these fifteen ways that you could potentially die while getting a tan.
And, sorry in advance for totally being the dark cloud over your vacation.
15. Sand Collapsing
Sand seems like the least likely thing to kill you on the beach. I mean, it’s like a ton of tiny pebbles. You toes can dig into sand. You can make sand angels if you want. Well, sand can also totally be dangerous. Sand can, apparently, just spontaneously collapse with no warning. So, if you’re digging a hole and you think, “hm, maybe I’ll get inside this hole” – do not get inside that friggin’ hole.
In fact, just in July of this year, a 17-year-old died after a sand tunnel collapsed on him. He had been visiting a beach in Florida and created a steep ‘W’ in the sand, which spontaneously collapsed on him.
14. Rip Currents
What makes rip currents so powerful? Well, it’s a forceful current that flows away from the shore – so, if you get caught in one, you’ll be dragged away from the shoreline and, you know, land. They are very dangerous if you’re caught in one, as The United States Lifesaving Association estimated that about 100 people die every year from rip currents.
Since rip currents can happen anywhere with waves, it’s hard to really tell where you’ll be in danger. Though, you can protect yourself by swimming at beaches with lifeguards. The United States Lifesaving Association calculated that the chance of a person dying by drowning on a beach with a lifeguard is about 1 in 18 million. That’s good news, even though there are a ton of other ways you could still totally die on the beach.
Yep, you could totally get a ton of diseases from swimming in the ocean. That’s comforting, right? Here’s a list of diseases or infections you can get from the ocean: Staph, MRSA, Hepatitis, Legionnaire’s Disease, and Schistosome Cercarial Dermatitis. So, yeah, if you want to avoid getting those, probably don’t hop into the ocean any time soon.
Staph and MRSA are definitely a big deal, as they are very common in the ocean and very deadly. MRSA is actually a strain of Staph that is just much harder to cure. How bad is MRSA? Well, it is estimated that is is killing people as fast as AIDS.
And just in case you were planning on visiting the beautiful tropics of Hawaii, it is more prominent there than anywhere else. As many as 200 people die each year in Hawaii from MRSA. Good news, right?
Apparently, being struck by lightning on the beach is not as rare as it seems. I mean, let’s be real – being struck by lightning is definitely rare but your chances will increase by being on the beach. If you are on the beach during a lightning storm, you are most likely the tallest thing around, which is exactly what lightning will strike. And obviously, going into the water to avoid the lightning is not an option.
This imposes a danger because people tend to not evacuate the beach at the first sign of a lightning storm. They will try to “wait out the storm” which lands them stuck at the beach and in some serious danger. So, even if you’re having a good time, if a storm starts a-brewin’ while you’re on the beach, get the hell out of there.
11. A Tsunami
Fortunately, the likelihood of a tsunami killing you on the beach is lower than many of the other things on this list but, hey, it still could happen.
Tsunamis are not just like a big wave. They are much, much worse than that. They are actually known as a seismic sea wave, which is several waves cause by a displacement of water. In layman’s terms, your normal waves are caused by the gravitational pull of the moon and the wind. They will pull back and then wash forward. A tsunami can be caused by an earthquake, volcano eruption and other natural or man-made disasters that would shift a body of water. This water then needs to move and so a tsunami wave forms.
Also, the heights of tsunamis are much, much higher than regular waves. They are as high 100 feet. It’s like a wall of water coming at you.
Fortunately, tsunamis are more or less predictable in the sense that you will most likely know about the earthquake or volcano that causes them. Basically, if you’re on the beach during an earthquake, get off the friggin’ beach as soon as possible.
10. Blue-ringed Octopus
This octopus looks really cute, right? Nope. No, totally wrong. This sucker will kill you.
The blue-ringed octopus lives in the Pacific, mainly from Japan to Australia. They look pretty cool but they are seriously deadly. They are actually one of the most venomous sea animals in the world. How venomous? Well, the little guy has enough venom to kill 26 adults within minutes. That’s a lot of poison.
Furthermore, their bite is often small and painless so many of their victims don’t even notice that they have been poisoned until, well, they’re dying. On top of that, there is no antivenom for it yet so if you get bit, you’re pretty much dead.
Being at the beach usually isn’t a cold experience. It’s hot, which is kind of the point. You’re supposed to sit in the hot sun, get a nice tan and dip in the water. Unfortunately, too much heat can lead to heat stoke, yes even at the beach.
Sure, dipping into the ocean every once in a while may cool you down a bit, but if you sit out baking for hours with no water, you may suffer from heatstroke all the same. Warning signs of heatstroke include dizziness, nausea, and a weakness of breath.
Basically, it means your body is overheated. This can happen more easily in areas like the tropics where it can get very, very hot. While it is more likely to happen to young children or the elderly, anyone can suffer from heatstroke and it can be fatal so, you know, stay hydrated and stuff.
Being the owner of a boat is a really cool bragging right. I mean, who doesn’t want to own a boat? It’s like a car for the water! Okay, that’s a dumb way to describe a boat but you get my point – boats are snazzy.
Sure, boats are cool but they are also dangerous as hell. In fact, in 2015, 36 people died of the reported 77 boating accidents in the US alone. That means that in nearly half the boating accidents in 2015, someone straight up died. Also, 44 people were injured in these accidents so even if you don’t die, you could potentially get very hurt. May the odds ever be in your favor, boat owners and passengers.
You’ve seen Jaws, right? I mean, almost everyone has seen Jaws. Just in the off chance you haven’t, it’s about a huge ass shark that eats people. And it’s terrifying.
While sharks are generally not as large as the one in Jaws, sharks do totally exist and they do totally eat people. In fact, every year there are over 70 reported shark attacks world wide. Do you really want to roll the dice of possibly being one of those 70?
In a way though, sharks should kind of be more afraid of us than we are of them. In the waters right off of the eastern U.S. coastline, populations of sharks have dropped drastically. In fact, some species of sharks have dropped by 90%. This is due in a large part to commercial fishing. So, for every one shark attack, we kill like 1,000 sharks or something. That math is very questionable.
6. Other People
Ah, all the other lovely people at the beach. They seem so nice and so friendly. They, too, enjoy laying at the beach and enjoying how good life can be. Sure, maybe – but those people also pose a threat to you.
Nope, I am not kidding and I totally don’t mean that someone is going to hold you underwater and drown you, but that could happen. I also don’t mean that someone is going to bury you from the neck down so that when the tide comes in, you die. Though, that totally could happen too.
What do I mean when I say other people impose a threat? Well, I do not mean that they are malicious in any way. I just mean that they may unwillingly harm you as they participate in some dangerous activities, like surfing, water skiing, boating or simply messing around in the water.
Also, they could run you over in the parking lot. I mean, in 2011 there were just 32,479 fatalities linked to motor vehicle accidents and that’s the lowest it had been in 62 years. Considering the odds, you’re more likely to die on your way to the beach than by a shark on the beach. Just sayin’.
5. Water Skiing
Obviously being pulled by a boat is going to be dangerous. Duh.
While death is not always how a fun day of water skiing ends, it is certainly a possibility. In fact, 38 people on average die every year water skiing. So, if you don’t think you’ll be one of those 38, more power to you.
On a lighter note, the most common injuries for water skiers are ankle strains or sprains, as the ski can go in one direction while the skier’s body goes in another direction, forcing strain on the ankle. Another common injury is lacerations on the head and neck area, you know from the water splashing up at your head so forcefully. Yeah, that sounds lovely.
Okay, so while Zika will not kill you, you definitely don’t want to get it. At all. The fact that Zika is transmitted via mosquitoes means you will be at high risk for possibly getting it at the beach and it is already known to have spread to a popular area for vacation in Miami Beach. Great news, right?
While the symptoms of Zika are pretty minor (fever, rash, muscle pain) the real issue lies in that fact that there is not yet a cure and that Zika can be passed from a pregnant woman onto her fetus, which can cause birth defects. The most common birth defect is microcephaly, which results in the baby having a smaller head than usual and often a smaller brain. This can result in the child not developing properly.
We’d all like to think that crocodiles are only in swamps and we’re totally safe from them on the beach. I mean, that’s really what we’ve been told, right? Well, that isn’t exactly the whole truth. While they generally live in lakes, rivers and wetlands, some do live in saltwater.
In May of this year, two women were swimming in knee-deep water when a crocodile literally just took one of them. The one woman struggled in vain to save her friend from the crocodile but seriously, she was fighting against a crocodile so we all know how that ended. Oh, and then in July, a video emerged of a 10-foot croc just strolling around a resort in Mexico like it was no big deal.
There is nothing like sipping a delicious alcoholic beverage on the beach. Seriously, something about having a drink at noon while your toes are in the sand is just about as good as life can get. Not to ruin your whole life or anything, but drinking on the beach is for sure dangerous.
For starters, you run the risk of impairing your judgement, which can heighten the danger of any of the previous risks. Think about it, you’re definitely more likely to have a mishap while water skiing or swimming if you’ve got a good little buzz going on. Also, drinking on the beach can directly lead to dehydration, so that’s another bummer. Oh, and you’re also more likely to get sunburn because alcohol metabolizes into a certain compound that makes your skin even more susceptible to UV rays. Nope, I’m really not even making that up.
1. The Sun
The sun can literally kill you – and heat strokes are not the only thing you have to worry about when it comes to the sun. Sunburn is a serious issue that you should avoid at all costs. If you have fair skin that can easily burn, taking all precautions is a must when it comes to going to the beach. Wear sunscreen. Sit under an umbrella. Wear a cover-up. Also, don’t think that because you’re in the water, you’re protected from the sun. The sun’s rays actually can penetrate through water and can even be magnified by the water.
Of course, some people who get a nice, glowing tan like to get some rays. We get it. Everyone looks a little more glamorous with a tan, right? Well, wrong. If getting said tan can cause sun cancer down the line, there is nothing glamorous about that tan. Give up the tan and cover up so you can avoid skin cancer. Trust us, you’ll pay for that gorgeous tan one day down the line.