Florida is known for some crazy stuff. "Florida Man" is practically a meme nowadays. But other than the downright ridiculous 'dangers,' there are some legitimate things to be wary of when enjoying your summer.
This article takes a close look at three hidden dangers in Florida waters and how you can have a safe summer despite them.
Hidden Danger #1: Brain-Eating Amoeba
Brain-eating amoeba might sound like something out of a horror movie, but it's a real hidden danger in Florida water. The technical name for this amoeba is Naegleria Fowleri.
This amoeba can cause an infection in the brain. It is found in warm freshwater such as lakes, ponds, springs, and sometimes even water parks. It enters the body through the nose, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Infection.
This amoeba is pretty rare, but last year, in 2020, the Florida Department of Health issued a warning after someone died from the infection. They recommend avoiding "nasal contact" with water that could be infected as a prevention technique.
"Remember, this disease is rare and effective prevention strategies can allow for a safe and relaxing summer swim season."
Infections include symptoms like fever, chills, stiff neck, and vomiting. People infected with the amoeba usually die within a week as the infection rapidly spreads and intensifies.
Hidden Danger #2: Alligators
Alligators are all over the Sunshine State year-round; however, they are most active in the summer months. This is due to both the heat and mating season. You may have heard some wild stories from the news lately about alligators finding their way to unlikely places (like a post office!). Or you may have heard about some recent alligator attacks in Florida.
Although the chance of being attacked by an alligator is one in 3.2 million, they are still a real danger if you aren't careful.
Some helpful alligator safety tips are:
- Don't walk your dogs near the water, as alligators will target animals before humans.
- Steer clear of alligators and leave them alone.
- Do not feed alligators.
- Do not swim at dusk or night; only swim during the day.
- Pay attention to your surroundings and stay alert!
Hidden Danger #3: Rip Currents
Rip currents and rip tides are very dangerous at Florida beaches. Between the amoebas, alligators, and rip currents, rip currents are by far the deadliest. Lifeguards rescue thousands of people from rip currents every year, and an average of 100 people die each year from getting caught in them.
Rip currents are so dangerous because they are strong, can take you by surprise, and can pull people away from the shore. It's difficult (nearly impossible for most) to determine if there are rip currents just by looking at the water.
It's important to keep an eye out for beach warning signs. If there is a sign that warns about strong tides, stay out of the water. Other safety tips include only swimming at beaches with lifeguards and knowing how to get out of rip currents if caught.
So, keep an eye out for these three dangers this summer and stay safe!