While clean-ups perform an important service for the National Seashore, they are not as important as being safe and maintaining one's good health. There is no bit of trash so important that one need risk injury to remove it. Park staff can always remove the item later. With that in mind, the National Seashore passes on the following safety guidelines compiled from years of experience in beach clean-ups.
Apply sun screen and wear hats and light clothing. Be wary of heat stress. If you feel faint or sick, rest for a few minutes or stop for the day. Drink plenty of water. Avoid sodas, which will only increase your thirst.
Do not pickup anything that looks like medical waste (i.e. pill bottles, needles, syringes, etc.) Mark it (with yellow caution tape tied to a stick, if provided) and notify a park employee of its location. It will be removed later.
Do not approach sealed containers (buckets, drums, etc.) which could contain hazardous substances. Do not trust the labeling on any container; often the contents of a container are not what is supposed to be inside. Contact a park employee for its removal.
Because they are often fragile or broken and their insides are coated with chemicals, do not pick up fluorescent light bulbs. Mark them as you do medical wastes and contact a park employee.
Be cautious when picking up trash near the vegetation line. Rattlesnakes sometimes hide under objects or in open buckets. Restrict trash pick-up to the beach and do not go into vegetated areas.
Use caution when picking up objects, such as broken plastic bottles, with sharp edges. If you are cut notify a park employee as soon as possible. First aid is available at the Visitors Center.
Keep an eye out for vehicles on the beach. If cleaning as a group in an area of high traffic, such as the first few miles of South Beach, it is always a good idea to have one or two people who do not pick up trash but concentrate on watching for approaching traffic.
Do not pick up lumber. Not only only does it contain splinters, but sometimes rusty nails as well. The park staff will pick them up.
Do not pick up natural items such as sea whip, sargassum, driftwood, broken shells, etc. These are part of the natural process of the island, which the National Seashore is dedicated to protecting. Be wary of jellyfish and man of war, which can sting.
Do not overload bags. Fill them only enough that they can be lifted to shoulder height with moderate effort. Leave enough room in each bag that a knot can be tied in its top. More bags can be obtained from the park staff. Ask the park's point of contact for your clean-up whether you should leave the bags next to the dunes or place them in a dumpster.
Remember to tell the park's point of contact for your clean-up how many bags of trash you or your group picked up and where the bags were left so they can be picked up later. Ask about certificates to document your community service.
Padre Island National Seashore wishes to thank you for contributing your time and effort to help restore the seashore to its natural beauty.
Last updated: February 24, 2015