It’s Your Health: Back to the basics — be nice

Easter already? Peak season, Spring break, and many edgy, impatient, disgruntled people on the roads, in restaurants, and grocery stores. Reality check. This happens every year so let’s all take a deep breath, relax, and be more accommodating than we were last year.

This week I’m deviating from my usual format to remind or perhaps inform readers of basic protocol and common sense to get us through another hectic time. Health, safety, and civility are foremost.

Water, water everywhere… pools, the Gulf… Respect this entity. Adhere to the aquatic rule that you never swim alone. Use the buddy system. Never (I’m adamant about this) send your children to the pool or Gulf without adult supervision. Don’t assume they will be OK because other people are around.

Remember too, although Marco Island is probably safer than where you came from, this time of year is an opportunist’s paradise. Obviously, we don’t screen people as they enter the island so take normal precautions, as you would anywhere. No purses or valuables left on beach or poolside is really a no-brainer, but people continue to do it and are dismayed when cash and bling disappear.

Not to ruin that picture perfect postcard of our surrounding water, but there’s aquatic life out there that could harm us if we don’t pay attention. They are in their element, which we must respect. We’re the intruders. Sharks don’t consider humans as a culinary delight but they are attracted to blood and shiny objects so don’t swim with cuts or wear your 18 karat gold necklace (no jewelry would be wise — loss prevention).

The stingray shuffle. Guess you could categorize it as a benign water dance. This is a must when entering our enticing gulf water. A stingray isn’t in a perpetual bad mood. It becomes annoyed and defensive when stepped on (as you would) so it retaliates by whipping around its tail that contains a nasty barb directed at you. It can cause amazing hurt and sometimes a trip to the emergency room. Shuffle your feet, shuffle your feet.

On land, too, watch where you step. Fire ant bites are painful and take a long time to heal. If you’re highly allergic to bees and other biting or stinging critters, be especially vigilant since fire ant bites can affect you the same way. If you see a mound in the grass, walk way around it. That reminds me... Many of the condo pools prohibit food on the pool deck. One of the main reasons is that dropped food attracts fire ants. If you get bit while munching and lounging and jump into the pool to dislodge the little lethal guys, forget it. They remain firmly affixed to your ankle. The no-food-rule is a sensible one.

Perhaps we should eliminate cars during season. It’s always a challenge driving in Florida but during this busy time it’s rather scary. Be mindful of everyone around you and don’t assume pedestrians will always use the crosswalk. And, to the chagrin of many, some drivers should not be allowed the privilege of operating a vehicle... for everyone’s safety.

Finally, grocery shopping is a necessary inconvenience from my point, especially now. Shopping carts everywhere, rude, impatient people, and sometimes out of stock items. It happens. Be tolerant, smile, be extra nice to your check out and bag person. How do you think he or she feels at day’s end (besides exhausted) if they’ve been yelled at a lot? Relax, slow down, and be nice. Remember that archaic condition?


Kay Sager is a certified fitness and aquatic specialist living at Port of the Islands. She is a personal trainer using land and water fitness and teaches swimming. She also has written articles for Physician and Sports Medicine among other publications. Kay can be reached by e-mail:

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