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 the best items for a beach bag? Here are seven beach bag essentials you should never leave home without.
1. Sunscreen lotion
Sunscreen is a summer must-have item for the beach to protect your skin from damaging sun rays. Pick a broad-spectrum product between 30 to 50 SPF. It should be reapplied every two hours or after swimming or sweating.
Don’t forget to protect your lips; they can also get burned. Choose a lip balm that also contains SPF. If you overdo it, consider packing an aftersun lotion to keep your skin moisturized after a day in the sun.
2. First aid kit
You can make a simple first aid kit by filling a small backpack or duffle bag with essential supplies for minor injuries, cuts, or scrapes. A first aid kit is a way to provide minor medical attention before you can seek professional care if needed.
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 and distilled water that you can use to treat dehydration or 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. Always have your favorite pair of sunglasses on hand.
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. 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 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 healthcare provider needs to know when treating you in a medical emergency.
You can also download apps on your phone that instruct you on performing first aid and life-saving measures like CPR and the Heimlich maneuver.
In addition to packing your phone in your beach bag, be sure to pack your portable charger to ensure your phone has plenty of battery in case you need to use it in an emergency. To keep your phone safe if you are near the water, consider a waterproof phone case to ensure it works if you need it.
6. Water bottle
Spending all day outdoors during the summer can put you at risk of dehydration and heat stroke. It is essential to drink enough water and a water bottle can help. Aim to drink about a cup (eight ounces) every 20 minutes if it is hot outside. Limit alcohol on hot days, as it can exacerbate dehydration.
7. Sanitizing hand wipes
Another beach bag essential is sanitizing hand wipes. These can be used to wipe off sand, clean up spills or sanitize hands before eating.
Other nonessential items for the beach
A few other beach bag items you might consider include:
- A hat to protect yourself from the sun
- Beach umbrella
- A good book
- Bluetooth speakers
- Snacks and other drinks
- Toys, if you are going to the beach with children
- A portable chair
- Beach towel or blanket
Having the nonessential and essential beach bag items on hand will help you have a great day at the beach, pool or lake.
Visit an urgent care for outdoor injuries
If you are enjoying your day but an injury does occur, visit your local urgent care center. Urgent care can treat most non-emergency injuries such as cuts, scrapes, insect bites and minor sprains or fractures. Learn more about all the services our urgent care offers through our healthcare partners on our services page.
If you need immediate attention, find a location near you to walk in or save your spot online at any of our convenient centers. We are open on holidays and weekends, 365 days a year, to provide the quality care you need.
Written by Sarah Thebarge, Physician Assistant