Here in lovely Long Island, we’re blessed with miles of beautiful coast lines, so beach safety tips are a crucial part of your summer. Whether hitting the sand near your home or while on vacation, thinking about your feet at the beach is now more important than ever. After all, while that sand may feel great between your toes, danger could be lurking just beneath the surface. Don’t believe us? Just wait until you hear what happened to Dr. Gasparini’s wife!
Foot Hazards at the Beach: Understanding the Need for Caution
Recently, Dr. Mark Gasparini—one of our podiatrists in Massapequa, Long Island—was at the beach with his wife. As they embarked on a long walk, she decided to wear her sneakers (with her orthotics), a choice that may sound surprising, until you remember she’s married to a podiatrist.
Well, it turns out that this was the best decision she could make. During her journey, she stepped on a plank with a nail coming through it. Luckily, the nail was stopped from puncturing her foot thanks to the orthotic she was wearing. As it turned out, the orthotics ended up saving her from a lot of pain, and a nasty infection.
Now, that story had a happy ending. But other prominent first ladies have been less fortunate when they ignored beach safety tips. In fact, back in 2021, FLOTUS Dr. Jill Biden punctured her foot while she strolled along a beach in Hawaii. And that injury was fairly serious. In fact, she had to rush to the hospital, where her wound was surgically cleaned. Afterward, she had to spend time in a walking boot, to keep pressure off the foot while she recovered from the injury and the resulting surgery.
Clearly, puncture wounds are an ever-present danger for anyone who walks on the beach. Hazards include rusty nails and broken glass, but even a sharp shell at the wrong angle could cause you problems. Then, even a small cut could become a bigger issue, since debris at the beach is unlikely to be sterile, and more likely to cause infection.
Beach Safety Tip #1: Cover Your Feet
As too many patients have learned the hard way, the beach is full of foot hazards. And that’s why you should never go barefoot at the shore. Now, do you need to wear sneakers and orthotics? That’s almost certainly not necessary. (Plus, unless you’re walking on a boardwalk, it could be uncomfortable. Since, for most of us, sand + sneakers = rubbing, discomfort and even blisters.)
Still, you do want a constant barrier between the soles of your feet and any sharp objects lurking in the sand. At a minimum, keep your feet in a pair of flip flops with a semi-rigid sole. Or, at best, choose sandals with a decent amount of arch support. And a thick enough heel to keep foreign objects from piercing your skin.
Beach Safety Tip #2: Consider Sand Temperatures
Even if you’re just lounging on your towel, touching your bare feet to the sand isn’t a great idea. Under the bright summer sun, those grains can absorb heat and rise to a dangerously hot temperature. At that point, contact could be painful and even cause burns, depending on the length of your foot’s exposure.
Now, that’s true for any beach-goer. But, if you have diabetes and/or neuropathy, and have decreased sensation in your feet, you might not realize how hot the sand truly is. In such cases, even a quick walk across the sand could leave your feet with burns that may not heal well, increasing your risk for foot ulcers.
Fungi are Lurking, Too
Still not convinced that you need to cover your feet at the beach? Here’s one more fun fact that will make you follow this beach safety tip: hundreds, if not thousands, of people walk across that sand each day of summer. And that means that, in addition to debris, there are plenty of fungal particles and other germs lurking on the sand’s surface, just waiting to enter your feet and cause trouble.
Want to end the summer without a fungal toenail or an athlete’s foot infection? Keep your feet covered in the sand. In fact, even when entering the ocean, it’s not a bad idea to keep them encased in a sturdy pair of water shoes.
Before You Leave the Shore: End of Day Beach Safety Tip List
Now that you’re aware of all the hazards waiting for you beneath those grains of sand, we know you get why you have to cover your feet. But, even with this precaution, they could take a hit in the beach. And that’s why you should check your feet carefully after a day in the sand, especially if you have diabetes.
What would we like you to look for? Check your feet—top and bottom—for any signs of scrapes or cuts. Even if they appear unharmed, you should gently wash your feet with soap and warm water at the end of the day. Make sure to get into all those nooks and crannies between your toes. And be sure to dry your feet afterward, to prevent fungal growth.
Find something worrying when you’re checking your feet? Step on something rough and now your foot doesn’t feel quite right? If there’s even a chance you cut your foot in the sand, it’s very important that you come into our Massapequa, Long Island podiatry office. Located in Nassau County, along the island’s south shore, we’re an easy stop on your way home from the beach. So don’t wait around and hope your foot will feel better in a day or two…Doing so could leave you with a serious infection, and a higher risk for complications. Instead, come see us right away! This is the best way to ensure that you don’t take home a souvenir of lasting foot complications from your fun day at the beach.