Tips for Outdoor Adventures on the Water

Whether swimming in the ocean or on a boat in a lake, follow these tips for staying safe by the water.

    • Anticipate ocean stings: Stings from contact with jellyfish, fire coral, hydroids, or anemones can range in severity from mild burning to severe pain with generalized illness. Make sure your beach bag includes a small bottle (labeled) of half vinegar, half rubbing alcohol that can be used to decontaminate wounds and provide pain relief. Seawater can also be used to rinse a sting, but fresh water or ice can worsen the effects of sea-life venom. Also, adults and children can both use a combination sunblock and jellyfish protective lotion to help prevent the stings of many species.
    • Avoid shark attacks: One of the most obvious ways to avoid shark attacks is to avoid swimming in shark-infested waters, particularly at dusk and after dark. When swimming in the ocean, swim in groups. Sharks tend to attack single swimmers. When diving, avoid deep drop-offs, murky water, or areas near sewage outlets. If you do encounter a shark, do not provoke it. Leave the water with slow, purposeful movement and do not splash or panic.
    • Manage motion sickness: Most boaters and divers adapt to motion after a few days, but may require treatment until they do. If you become nauseated on board a ship, stay on deck. Splash your face with cold water and keep your eyes fixed on a steady point in the distance. Anti-nausea medications can be taken as a preventive, and wristbands that apply pressure or electrical stimulation to acupuncture points can be used before or after symptoms begin.


Check in tomorrow for tips on how to be prepared for your outdoor adventure.


Published on: May 31, 2012
About the Author
Photo of Paul Auerbach MD FACEP FAWM

Dr. Paul S. Auerbach, FACEP, FAWM, is the Redlich Family Professor of Surgery in the Division of Emergency Medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine. He is the world’s leading medical expert on wilderness medicine and a prolific author.

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