I thought it strange when we first moved to Texas, that a standard farewell greeting was ‘Be safe’.   After dealing with Houston traffic and weather for over  year, now I understand why.

The first time we slept on the beach I was concerned about safety.  We were on a remote beach with very few people around.  Our nearest ‘neighbor’ was about 1/4 mile down the beach.  On one side of us we had dunes and marshes that were home to alligators, snakes, and other critters.  On the other side was the Gulf that is home to sharks, jellyfish, and stingray – and clams too, but they are pretty harmless.  Not to mention extreme weather and, if you’re driving on the beach, always being aware of the tides.  Here are just a couple of basic tips to help keep your beach experience safe.  I’ll elaborate on these in future posts.

TIDES

When we first went to the beach we never gave a thought to the tides, but when your vehicle is parked on the beach, it’s important to know when low and high tides occur. Search YouTube for video of people’s cars and trucks stranded by high tide and you’ll understand how important this is.

Tide schedules for your area are easily available on your smartphone.  Park accordingly.  If the water is at high tide, you can park fairly close to the water’s edge as it won’t get much higher.  If it’s at low tide, give yourself some room.  Look for clues – usually you can see where the high tide was last by observing where the sand was last wet.

There are several hours between low and high tide, so as long as you are staying near your vehicle you’ll have time to move it if needed.

WEATHER and SUN

Sun safety goes without saying.  A mid-summer Texas sun will roast you in minutes.  Cover up.  Apply lotion.  Don’t forget to protect your head.  I’ve had sunburn on my scalp even though I still have hair!

Weather on the coast can change in a hurry.  Check the forecast on your smartphone.  Plan accordingly.

Pay attention to the actual weather happening around you.  Even with a good forecast weather can turn in a hurry.  Watch for lightning and seek cover immediately if a storm pops up.

CRITTERS

The worst we have had to deal with is mosquitos.  Always bring a good DEET spray for adults and appropriate protection for kids.

We’ve never seen a gator, snake, or any other nasty land creature in our excursions.  I stay out of the dunes and marshes that they call home, but I do keep a machete at the camp for a measure of protection.

We have also never encountered any water-based enemies, but I’m always on the lookout for dorsal fins.  Stingrays bury themselves in the sand where they can be stepped on so I always try to wear shoes of some kind.  Besides shoes offer some measure of protection against broken glass, sharp metal, hooks, etc.  Jellyfish and Man-o-war can be present, although we have never seen them at the beach.  Pack some vinegar for sting relief.

OTHERS

We have never felt threatened on the beach, still it pays to always be careful.  When we set up camp we try to set up protection from other vehicles.  If we have 2 vehicles we’ll park one on either side of the campsite.  If we only have one we’ll try to tuck in behind a dune or log, and park the vehicle on the other side of the camp.

When we turn in I keep a weapon in the tent with me just in case.  It doesn’t hurt to be prepared, but don’t let fear keep you from the beach either.  Again, common sense prevails.  And we usually have our dogs with us as well.

Every beach we have been to has been patrolled as well.

FIRST AID

Always bring at least a basic first aid kit.  If you are remote camping you can be minutes to hours from help.  Every beach we have been on has had good cell service, so emergency services are a call away, but the responding company may be several miles away, so response could be delayed.

SUMMARY

A little common sense and preparation will help make your beach trip safe and fun.  If you’ve never camped before, start with a few day trips until you are comfortable with the beach environment, then do an overnighter.  It is truly worth it.