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Personal Injury Risks at the Beach This Summer

Summertime means kids out of school, parents with vacation days to use up, and everyone taking advantage of Alabama’s stunning beaches. Nearly 7 million people visit Alabama’s Gulf Coast every year, bringing new life to this tourist area.

However, with that many people on the beachfront, there are bound to be accidents. Learn more about the personal injury risks on Alabama’s Gulf Coast, and if you suffer an injury this summer, call Burns, Cunningham & Mackey at 251-432-0612.

Red Tide

Red tide is a unique risk to watch out for in the Gulf Coast area. It occurs when there’s a buildup of specific sea organisms called dinoflagellates. Dinoflagellates make a toxin that paralyzes fish and stops them from breathing. Karenia brevis is the organism found in the Gulf Coast.

In addition to harming the fish in the area, it can also cause health issues in humans. Exposure to this organism may lead to difficulty breathing or skin irritation. You can avoid this by staying out of the water when it turns red, getting out if you experience breathing difficulties or skin irritation, and keeping up with local weather and beach alerts.

Strong Currents

Strong currents are a risk on any beach, and they can be a serious issue in the Gulf Shores and Orange Beach region. Be cautious when swimming and don’t overestimate your abilities as this can put you at risk of being swept away by a current. If anyone in your group is not a strong swimmer, stick to beaches that are patrolled by lifeguards.

The flag system utilized by Orange Beach and Gulf Shores is also helpful in these situations. Yellow flags indicate moderate currents and red flags indicate very strong currents and dangerous conditions. Double red flags mean that the water is closed to the public. A purple flag warns swimmers of dangerous animals. Note, though, that an absence of a flag does not mean that the water is safe. It’s always best to check the news and official beach websites to stay informed of current conditions.

Dangerous Marine Life

When that purple flag is waving, know that you risk an encounter with dangerous sea creatures if you decide to swim. Some dangerous marine animals you may come across in the Gulf Shores area include:

  • Sharks, including the bull shark and thresher shark
  • Sting rays
  • Alligators
  • Hardhead catfish
  • Lionfish
  • Barracuda
  • Jellyfish

Of course, this isn’t a reason to skip your beach vacation this year. When you see a purple flag, it’s unlikely that you’ll encounter a shark or sting ray in the water. If you do, you could encounter a more docile shark species that is unlikely to cause intentional harm. The most common reason for the purple flag is jellyfish. Moon jellyfish, cannonballs, Portuguese man-of-war, and sea nettle jellyfish can all be found in the Gulf Shores.

The next greatest threat is fish. Hardhead catfish have poisonous barbs that can leave you with temporary paralysis, and the lionfish has venomous fin rays.

Broken Glass

Even if you don’t enter the water, you could leave your beach trip injured. People tend to be careless when on vacation, especially with their food waste and drinks. It’s not uncommon to find broken beer bottles on the beach.

When walking around on the beach, it’s recommended that you wear thick flip flops or other shoes to protect your feet from glass and other sharp objects. A cut on the beach can be expensive to treat. Not only do you need stitches to close the wound, you may also need additional treatments to avoid infection.

Make the most of your summer on Alabama’s beautiful beaches, but don’t forget to be careful and plan ahead to avoid obstacles. Leave your vacation with great memories and photos, not medical bills and personal injury claims.

Choose Burns, Cunningham & Mackey for Your Personal Injury Claim

Even if you’re careful, accidents happen. If you find yourself injured while on vacation this summer, you may be able to seek compensation with a personal injury claim. We can help. To discuss your accident and figure out if you have a valid claim, set up a consultation now. Call Burns, Cunningham & Mackey at 251-432-0612 or reach out to our team online.