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Sea , sand , and surf are the words that describe many people’s ideal vacation. But beaches aren’t without their hazards, either. One of the most common hazards, of course, is the dreaded overexposure to ultraviolet radiation, better known as a sunburn. While highly unpleasant, sunburns are avoidable through the use of hats and sunscreen. In small doses, ultraviolet exposure isn’t especially harmful—in fact, we all need some sunlight to stay healthy! Repeated exposure over long periods,

Dangers: Beaches present risks of boat collisions, drowning, shark attacks, sunburns, and more. Did You Know? According to National Geographic , the United States averages 19 shark attacks per year.

however, is not safe and is strongly associated with skin cancer. Drownings are probably a more pressing danger for beachgoers. While it’s true that people can and do drown anywhere—including in backyard pools and even bathtubs—areas of open water such as oceans are the most common place where drowning occurs. The International Life Saving Federation estimates that lifeguards around the world make approximately one million rescues every year. Ocean bathers must share the water with critters who may not be so happy to meet them. Swimmers in Australia know to fear the box jellyfish, whose toxic tentacles can kill a person in three minutes or less. Coral reefs are home to stonefish, whose poisoned spines inflict horrifying pain on about a thousand beachgoers a year. Meanwhile, the website Tracking Sharks (www.trackingsharks.com) reported 101 shark attacks around the world in 2018. But don’t let the fear of sharks put you off your vacation too much. Although shark attacks are scary and dramatic, they are very rare. What’s more, about a quarter of them are described as “provoked,” meaning that the human approached the shark first, rather than the other way around. After “wear a hat” and “swim near lifeguards,” the top safety tip at the beach has got to be don’t mess with sharks . You’ll increase your survival rate right off the bat.

The Ultimate Book of Dangerous Places


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