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How to take care on the beach during this exceptionally hot summer

cbc.ca logo cbc.ca 2020-08-12 Kevin Yarr
a group of people on a beach: Lifeguards are watching the beach as well as the water while in the chair. © CBC Lifeguards are watching the beach as well as the water while in the chair.

If you're heading for the beach to beat the heat on P.E.I., the provincial lifeguard co-ordinator wants you to take care in the sun as well as in the water.

Matthew Smith said this summer has been exceptionally hot.

"A few years ago when I was still lifeguarding, before I moved into a management position, there was a number of hot summers that we dealt with," Smith said.

"But this summer seems to be a little unique in the consistency of the 30-plus degree days."

Lifeguards are obviously trained to help people who get in trouble in the water, but Smith said they are also trained to help people who get in trouble on the beach as well.

a man standing on a beach: Lifeguards are trained to deal with a wide variety of situations while on the beach, says P.E.I. provincial lifeguard co-ordinator Matthew Smith. © Brittany Spencer/CBC Lifeguards are trained to deal with a wide variety of situations while on the beach, says P.E.I. provincial lifeguard co-ordinator Matthew Smith.

While lifeguards are watching the water, they are also keeping an eye on sunbathers, paying attention to people who may have been in the same position in the sun for a long time, particularly if they are not under a beach umbrella or other shelter from the sun.

In those cases, the lifeguard may check in to see that the person is OK. They might have fallen asleep, and not be aware of how long they have been in the sun.

Beachgoers should be keeping track of their own well-being too, said Smith, and watching for these signs of heat stress.

  • Extreme fatigue.
  • Dizziness.
  • Muscle cramps.
  • Headache.
  • Disorientation.

People on the beach with any questions or concerns should talk to the lifeguard, said Smith.

"The lifeguards have over 110 hours of training and they are well versed in first-aid emergencies and they're also well versed in public relations and engaging with the public," he said.

"The lifeguards are a jack-of-all-trades when they're on the beach."

Smith noted lifeguards are also taking care of themselves while on the beach. They have sun shades, water, sunscreen and clothing that protects them from the sun.

Lifeguards are also regularly given the opportunity to spend some time in the water to cool down.

Heat stress can sneak up on you, said Smith, and even 10 minutes out of the sun can make you feel a lot better.

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