There's a silent danger lurking at the beach. We're not talking about sharks, jellyfish or even riptides. Waves in the wading zone—those lovely swells of water that we surf on, dive into and bob in—are the greatest danger, knocking beachgoers to the ground and injuring them, according to a new study.
Researchers at the University of Delaware studied visit data from several Delaware emergency rooms. During a three-year period, the emergency rooms saw about 1,100 patients who came from the beach. The most beach-related visits came from people who were in the surf zone, knee-height or shallower water, when the waves knocked them to the ground.
The most common injuries were broken collarbones, shoulders injuries, neck pain and ankle and knee sprains, but also included broken bones and injuries to internal organs. Three people died as a result of beach injuries during the observational study.
When powerful waves hit the land, they sometimes have enough force to slam a grown adult to the sandy ground, causing injuries in some cases. While it's not exactly groundbreaking research, it offers more proof that we rarely focus on the most dangerous—and often least sexy—aspects of the natural world.
The best way to stay safe at the beach is to pay close attention to waves, especially when negotiating the shallows (this is even more important on rocky beaches).
Of course, the beach is still a chill place to spend a hot summer day… you know, provided you wear plenty of sunscreen, beware riptides and avoid all dangerous sea life.