Sunbathers at the Maspalomas beach lifted their heads. Though they were used to yelling kids running around, this scream sounded different.
It was that kind of heebie-jeebies-provoking scream you may recognize from your favourite horror movies.
She was around 6 years old. Her blonde curly hair shined like an angel’s hair in the sun.
And while the sound of sirens became louder and closer, she was shaking a man’s body floating in the Atlantic Ocean close to the beach.
Lifeguards carried the girl away from the scene, while others pulled the man’s body back to the beach.
The rescuers found Mommy at the nearby shopping strip.
It was the job for the thick-skinned officials to notify her that her husband – the father of the blonde girl – had drowned.
Still with me?
Good for you.
Because the little story above isn’t fiction. It’s one of many tragedies that happen frequently in Gran Canaria. And to avoid becoming the next victim, keep the following live-saving hints in mind. Seriously.
Here are 7 dumb ways to die while on holidays in Gran Canaria (that you can easily avoid).
1. Being a shark’s delicious dinner
Thinking that Gran Canaria’s beaches are not safe anymore after the latest shark attack is nonsense. But thinking the beaches are safe is the same sort of nonsense.
Let’s face it. There are fish in the Atlantic Ocean. That’s not much of a surprise.
Though the bigger ones swim around many miles away from the coast, life’s coincidences can be weird sometimes.
For example, sometimes a shark gets lost too close to the beach. While on the search for food, he may look at your arm and mistake it for his preferred dish.
How can you prevent a shark bite?
Eat healthy and light food at your hotel’s buffet so that you don’t look and smell like a roasted stuffed goose. (You would also love to bite in, right? So why shouldn’t a shark?)
OK, I’m kidding.
But here are some useful pieces of advice for fending off sharks. (Just in case, you know.)
If in doubt, use the natural pools to swim around the Atlantic Ocean without having predators nibbling your toes.
And just as a note:
Scientists don’t believe sharks attack humans to eat us; rather, they bite into our flesh because they’re curious to find out what kind of animal we are.
2. Walking around Gran Canaria’s highlands in beachwear
A no-brainer, you might say.
Well…nope. Lots of folks drive up to the mountains in flip-flops thinking it’s cool to wander around like a hippie.
When you stumble or slip, there’s a chance that spraining your ankle may be the worst result. It hurts like hell, but you’re still alive.
Another possibility is your unique chance for a free one-way ticket down the abyss.
Think it sounds overblown?
It’s happened more than one time already – sad but true.
Still intending to opt for the ankle sprain and head out in your beachwear?
Sorry to disappoint you. Wearing beach gear to the mountains is simply not safe.
The hot sun will melt your brain if you’re bareheaded. If you’re only getting headaches, you’re more or less fine.
But if you left your good luck in the hotel safe, unconsciousness, organ failure, and death could be your jackpot.
How, then, do you prevent dying in Gran Canaria’s mountains?
There’s an easy solution: wear proper hiking boots and head protection. And read this post here.
3. Drowning in the hotel pool or at the beach
Your hotel pool and the beach full of other families sound like the best places for families with kids. Mommy and Daddy are worried about their skin colour and want to make the neighbours at home jealous. So while they get toasted on the lounger, they feel totally safe letting their kids play nearby.
What could happen with hundreds of folks around? Plus, the attentive hotel staff are looking out for the kids. Aren’t they?
It’s not so simple.
On average, 390 children die annually from drowning in pools and spas across the U.S. and emergency rooms treat an average of 5,100 children each year for injuries stemming from a drowning incident in a pool or spa. Source.
Correct; those aren’t the statistics for Gran Canaria.
But you can’t possibly believe that we have holy water here that lets kids float above the surface, right? (There’s no need to answer that.)
The truth is, sixty-two (62) people drowned at Canarian beaches in 2015. That’s around one drowning every six days.
How do you prevent your kids from drowning in a hotel pool or at the beach?
Don’t be too relaxed. Always keep an eye on them. And do not trust in having a thousand folks around. Those folks are as relaxed as you and probably have better things to do than watch out for your kids. And keep an eye on the ocean. If you see this thing here around your kids, run!
Here’s another self-induced way to die in the water:
4. Cooling down in the ocean after a long sunbath
The older you get, the more sensitive you are to cold water. And when you jump into the refreshing Atlantic Ocean after an extensive sunbath, you can dive into some serious difficulties.
Now, the water temperature at Canarian beaches is around 24° Celsius during summer. Sounds pretty chilly. And it’s one of the reasons why four million tourists come every year to Gran Canaria.
The fact is that 24° Celsius is only one degree below your body’s safe-limit. That’s why cold water is an invisible predator that can kill you within a few minutes.
- Your normal body temperature lowers one degree to 36° Celsius, causing shivering.
- Your body temperature lowers below 34° Celsius, causing amnesia and coordination problems.
- Your body temperature lowers below 30° Celsius, causing unconsciousness.
- Your body temperature lowers below 26° Celsius, causing death.
And just to remind you of the statistics from point 3: Sixty-two (62) people drowned at Canarian beaches in 2015. Now you know one of the reasons.
How do you prevent dying from a cold-water shock?
Like you, I also love to have an ice-cold beer at the beach (or more). But… alcohol raises your sensitivity to cold water. Think twice before you open the next bottle.
Splash the ocean’s water on your face for 10 to 15 seconds. This allows your face to cool down to the water’s temperature so your body adjusts and the shock passes. In addition, you should walk into the sea slowly to give your body enough time to cool down.
5. Swimming through the water sports zone
You may have heard of it in the news: A windsurfer decapitated a woman at a Gran Canarian beach in 2015.
It wasn’t the windsurfer’s fault. It was a horrific coincidence that could have been avoided easily.
All beaches in the Canary Islands show on big boards what you can do and what you can’t do (or shouldn’t do) at that particular beach.
The poor lady who had the fatal run-in with the windsurfer did not read the sign that says, in huge letters: “Snorkeling and swimming prohibited – Water sports zone!”
How do you prevent getting beheaded by a windsurfer?
How about reading the boards? There’s a reason why they exist. And they may even save your life.
So, yeah…read them.
Oh, and besides the important boards at all the beaches, there are also nice flags fluttering in the wind.
6. Ignoring the coloured flags at the beaches
Just like the boards above, the flags are there for an important reason.
- A green flag tells you: Safe bathing conditions
- A yellow flag tells you: Bathe with caution
- A red flag tells you: Don’t be silly!
Green, yellow, red. That might sound familiar if you’re an attentive driver. Good thing that we even have traffic lights in form of flags on all beaches.
If you see the red flag, lifeguards are warning you about dangerous swimming conditions. They know what’s going on in the ocean. And they also know that streams can be very powerful – even for skilled swimmers.
So, before you jump into the Atlantic Ocean, turn around to see the flag’s colour.
Here’s what the colours mean, in more detail:
- The state of the sea is calm. No waves, currents, or animals inside the waters. The beach is suitable for bathing.
- Risk factors such as higher waves, animals, or pollution. Bathe with caution on your own responsibility.
- Bathing is completely forbidden for both swimming and diving. The reason for a red flag can be strong tides that drag swimmers, strong waves, weather, pollution, and hazardous or harmful animals like jellyfish.
Ignoring the red flag is like opting for suicide. Period.
7. Shooting selfies at the northern coastline
This is the most idiotic way to die while on holidays in Gran Canaria.
Let’s call it the supreme discipline of the braindead.
The rough environment of Gran Canaria’s north coast, with strong winds and waves up to three meters, makes it a predestined location for “this one perfect holiday photo”.
And to turn “perfect” into “spectacular”, you have to get as close to the shore as possible.
I totally get that.
And I have to admit that these photos are pretty. I’m talking about photos with people in front of a three-meter wave, just a few seconds before the wave pulls them into the ocean’s depths.
This doesn’t only happen to tourists. Lots of local fishermen have disappeared forever in the past while fishing for their dinner.
To make it short: Gran Canaria’s north coast is officially declared “extremely dangerous”. Don’t underestimate the power of water.
You’d risk your life simply to upload a photo that receives standing ovations? (Which would look totally ugly with a black badge)
Stay safe while on holidays in Gran Canaria and watch out for the grim reaper
All of the above examples and statistics are truth, not fiction. And all the victims probably had the same thought as you: “That will never happen to me.”
Take care when enjoying the island’s beaches and do everything possible to fly back home in a comfortable airplane seat instead of a…
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