Whether you’re heading to the beach or the pool this summer, it’s important to pack everything you need to have a healthy and safe time by the water. Don't know what to pack in a beach bag? Here are five things you should never leave home.
1. Flotation devices
Unintentional drowning is the fifth leading cause of death in the U.S. Many of these deaths can be prevented with flotation devices that help young or inexperienced swimmers keep their heads above water. So, when you’re packing for the beach or pool, make sure you pack appropriate flotation devices for the young or inexperienced swimmers who are coming with you.
Just remember that these devices are not a substitute for vigilant supervision while vulnerable swimmers are in the water.
2. First aid kit
You can make a simple first aid kit by filling a small backpack or duffle bag with essential supplies.
The kit should include disposable gloves and wound care supplies like antibiotic ointment, gauze, and bandages.
It should also include a premade splint and triangle bandage that can be used to splint an injured extremity.
Pack tweezers in case you need to remove splinters, ticks, or insect stingers.
You should also pack over-the-counter medications including cortisone cream, antihistamines, and medication for pain and fever.
First aid kits should also contain sunscreen, as well as distilled water that you can use to treat dehydration or use to flush wounds.
When you’re spending time in the sun, it’s important to protect not only your skin but also your eyes, from harmful UV rays. So, make sure you wear sunglasses whenever you’re outdoors.
Sunglasses can prevent several eye conditions, including macular degeneration, cataracts, and “crow’s feet” wrinkles that are caused by squinting in bright light.
Sunglasses can also prevent a pterygium -- an abnormal tissue growth on the cornea that can obstruct vision and, in some cases, require surgical removal.
4. Dry change of clothes
Make sure you pack a dry change of clothes in your beach bag so you can change out of your wet swimsuit as soon as you get out of the water.
Wearing wet clothes has been shown to clog pores and hair follicles and increase the growth of bacteria that causes acne. Wet clothes also increase the risk of fungal skin infections like jock itch and ringworm. And women who wear wet clothes are at an increased risk of yeast infection since yeast replicates faster when moisture and body heat are trapped against the vaginal area.
5. Cell phone and charger
Your cell phone can save your life -- so make sure you don’t leave home without it! Most smartphones have an emergency SOS feature that connects you to a 9-1-1 dispatcher, and texts your location to your emergency contacts.
Most phones also have a medical ID feature where you can store information about your health history, allergies, medications, and other information a health care provider needs to know when they’re treating you in a medical emergency.
You can also download apps onto your phone that instruct you on how to perform first aid and life-saving measures like CPR and the Heimlich maneuver.
In addition to packing your phone in your beach bag, make sure you pack your charger as well to make sure your phone has plenty of battery in case you need to use it in an emergency.
At GoHealth Urgent Care, we’re here 7 days a week to care for you.
Written by Sarah Thebarge, Physician Assistant