I grew up in Connecticut, East Hartford to be exact. For those of you not from the Northeast, this is only about 30 miles from the Ocean. But we didn’t go to the beach a lot when I was growing up. We only went enough that I remember that I hated lathering on the sunscreen.
Even though we weren’t that far away, we just didn’t spend much time on the shore during the summer. And even less time during the frigid, New England winter months.
After college, I ended up spending a considerable portion of my life in Central Ohio. For those of you not from the Midwest, it’s nowhere near the ocean.
Fast forward to today, and I am back to living near the coast. But this time, it’s in sunny Florida. For those of you not from the Southeast, Florida is surrounded by ocean.
From my house, I am no more than 30 minutes away from some of the best beaches in the country, including Clearwater and St. Pete. I’ve already had as many beach days in my three years living here as I probably had my entire time in Connecticut.
But now, I’m also a mom. And as a Mom, I’m also more cognizant of all the hazards kids (and even adults) can face anytime there’s water involved, especially at the beach. Actually, come to think about it, there seem to be a lot more hazards than I remember as a kid.
First of all, there’s sharks. Not the big great while sharks, like from Jaws, but there’s still sharks in Florida. Well, actually, now that I’ve been here awhile, I’ve learned that sharks aren’t much of an issue here. There’s not likely to be any sharks lurking in broad daylight near a crowded beach.
Ok, so we can probably not worry about that one too much, but there’s way more threats than just that.
Have you ever heard of sea lice? Anyone? Seriously, the first time I heard about this I was like wtf is that? It sounds made up.
But it’s real, and basically, it’s just very small jelly fish. They’re so small and clear you can barely see them. They have small stingers that can be activated when you get out of the water and dry off with a towel. Or the material from your swimsuit can rub up against it. It leaves you an itchy mess with a rash. Not as scary as sharks, but, no thanks, I’ll pass.
How about Red Tide? Have you ever heard of that one? Actually, at first, I thought this one was made up to. Then I thought there was maybe a movie about this. But that was actually Red Dawn, which is about some High School Kids who fight an invading army, which has nothing to do with beaches or water. So basically, I had no clue.
I’ve since learned this lovely thing can be found off some shores along the Florida Gulf Coast. It is a result of algal blooms that form in the warm water. The water becomes very discolored, and the blooms set off all kinds of toxins. You don’t want to swallow this stuff. Yuck.
Okay, I’m sure you’re thinking that’s what I get for bragging about living in Sunny Florida, right? I mean, if I never left Ohio, I wouldn’t have had to worry about this stuff.
Not so fast.
While we use fancy terms like Red Tide, we’re not the only ones who have to deal with Algae Blooms. One of the annual traditions in Ohio is the late July warnings from the State about which lakes aren’t safe to swim in because of this stuff. It’s nasty. I imagine there’s other states that have similar problems. Yuck.
How about brain eating amoebas? Every heard of that one? I think that’s something that’s seen more often in the southern states like Alabama. Brain eating Amoeba, Eww.
So what happened? When did it become so unsafe to go near the water?
Has it always been that dangerous?
Or have I just simply grown into that phase of becoming the worrisome Mother?
Actually, to tell you the truth, I don’t really worry about this stuff. Most of it is easily avoidable. And if I were to start worrying about that kind of stuff, there’s a million other threats I would have to start worrying about too. Seriously, it’s too much.
Don’t go near the water? Forget that. Get in, the water’s nice.
And when we go to the beach, I’ll make sure to keep my kid all lathered up in sunscreen, so he can hate it just like I did.