Rip tides arenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t the only thing you have to worry about at the beach this summer: People standing in knee-deep water suffer the majority of serious injuries inflicted by waves, according to an ongoing study conducted by Beebe Medical Center and the Delaware Sea Grant College Program.
For the study, researchers analyzed injuries at select Delaware beaches over the past three summers. So far, researchers have tallied a total of 1,121 injuries requiring emergency medical treatment. Though the most frequently recorded injuries include dislocated shoulders, broken collarbones, and ankle and knee sprains, some beach-goers have also experienced blunt organ trauma, paralysis, and even death.
Researchers began the study after noticing that beach injuries came in clusters. On most days, no one came in with any wave-related problems; but on others, five to 10 injured beach-goers would seek treatment. The most ever recorded in a single day during the course of the study was 25.
Why are some days more dangerous than others? Researchers havenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t reached a definitive conclusion yet, but Paul Cowan, a doctor of osteopathic medicine and Beebe chief of emergency medicine says his team tends to see more injuries on the days following large tropical storms. Ã¢â‚¬Å“These are [typically] very pleasant weather days, but there is a lot of energy in the surf,Ã¢â‚¬Â he says.
Another factor: Beachgoers may think theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll be safe if they stick close to shore on rougher days, but this area between the dry sand and the spot where waves are breakingÃ¢â‚¬”an area the researchers call the Ã¢â‚¬Ëœsurf zoneÃ¢â‚¬â„¢Ã¢â‚¬”is actually pretty dangerous.
To keep your day of fun in the sun injury-free, Cowan recommends keeping your eyes on the waves. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Turning your back to the waves is as dangerous as closing your eyes and dashing across several lanes of traffic on a highway,Ã¢â‚¬Â he says. And if you plan on swimming in the ocean, make sure to choose a beach with lifeguards.Ã‚Â The extra pair of eyes can help save you from ending up in a very scary situation.
photo: iStockphoto/Thinkstock More from Women's Health:
Anti-Aging Benefits of SPF Now Backed by Science
Best Swimming Workout: Lose Body Fat in the Pool
Get a Bikini Body That Rocks