SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii (July 11, 2017) --- Hawaii is filled with beautiful beaches and warm waters all year long. This makes for the perfect opportunity to enjoy its beaches all year. Before going out, be sure to make safety the primary concern.

"Many people go to the beach without a safety plan," stated Lt. Col. Kathleen Gerrie, the safety officer for the United States Army Health Clinic at Schofield Barracks (USAHC-SB). "There are so many small things that we can do that makes a world of difference; such as applying sun screen."

"Being in the tropical paradise, means that the sun's UV strength is much higher than most places," stated Gerrie. "One of the most common preventative injuries that we see are sun burns."

After sun screen has been applied, the next step is to run and jump into the cool, blue ocean.

"Plenty of the beaches on Oahu are patrolled by lifeguards, but there are extra precautions that can be taken to ensure a trip to the beach is a safe one," stated Gerrie.

One major consideration that often gets overlooked is the rip current. This current is extremely easy to get into, and very hard to get out of.

Rip currents are currents that can move in speeds up to eight feet per-second. These currents are fast-moving that start from the shore and flow outward, through the surf zone, and into the ocean.

"Being able to identify the rip current can show where to avoid while swimming," stated Gerrie. "There are also other dangers that aren't caused by nature that we need to be aware of."

There are many dangerous sports that take place within the water, such as; surfing, body boarding, snorkeling, cliff diving and scuba diving.

While all these events are fun, make sure to take the proper precautions before partaking in these events.

"In the past several years there have been dozens of drownings in popular snorkeling spots," stated Gerrie. "There has also been a high number of back and neck injuries from surfing as well."

If uneasy about going in, talk to the life guard about the water conditions, and ask for their suggestion on where to swim and areas to avoid.

Here are some tips on things to do to ensure a safe time at the beach:

• When in doubt, don't go out.
• Check the surf report before getting into the water.
• Talk with a life guard about the water conditions.
• Take a water safety course.
• Only swim at beaches that have life guards on duty.
• Wear sun screen.
• Always scuba dive with a buddy.
• Bring U.S. Coast Guard approved flotation devices for weak swimmers.
• Never leave children unattended.
• Don't drink alcoholic beverages before swimming.
• If you are not experienced, avoid going into the waters of North Shore during winter- waves can reach up to 70 feet.
• Properly secure your valuables in your vehicle -- out of sight!