As with any beach destination, the most common health problem on Sanibel is over exposure to the sun.  Even on cool days the sun is strong and you get all the reflected light off the water and you don't even realize you're burning.  Do as most folks who live in Florida do, wear a hat to shade the eyes and neck and use an high SPF sun block and renew it often.  Good polarized sunglasses really help you eyes when around water and are well worth the investment.  And the other important thing is keep hydrated.  In summer, especially when engaged in physical activities like biking, running and skating you'll need plenty of fluids and sports drinks to stay healthy.  Heat and humidity can be a deadly combination, so drink up that Gatoraid and water.

Shells are great but can be very hard on the feet.  Beach shoes and water shoes protect delicate feet, especially on the little ones.  Also, young sting rays, often called skates, lurk in the shallow sandy water's edge.  You'll see folks shuffling their feet as they enter the water - the 'Sanibel Shuffle'.  This is done scare away the sting rays.  Step on the barbed tail of a sting ray and you'll be in a lot of pain, but no danger.  Time heals the problem.  You can pay a doctor to tell you that if it will make you feel better.  It will make you feel poorer.  The same for jellyfish stings.  Luckily neither is very common.  Cuts are, so be sure your tetanus shots are up to date.

Insect bites - well it is Florida - are the single most annoying problem around.  Mosquitoes, yes plenty of those, but they're nothing compared to the infamous no-see-ums.  No-see-ums - called Flying Teeth on some Caribbean islands - are all over Florida and the Caribbean.  They love shady areas, the underside of beach detritus, and beach grasses and plants.  They love hot humid weather.  They also love some people.  And they are so tiny they can get into screened lanais.  They can't fly in breezes and aren't fond of strong sun and are most active early morning and evening.  Those pin-prick bites bloom into nasty welts that itch for a long time.  Your best bet, stay indoors at dawn and dusk.  Wear a good insect repellent - some swear by Avon's Skin So Soft, other Deep Woods Offs or Swamp Juice. No No Seeum Spray is available everywhere on the Island and created by a long time Islander. It's all non-toxic formula works for most people. http:///nonoseeum.com/  for details. Avon Skin So Soft is an old Standby. Barrier Island Pharmacy also has a great bite/itch Remedy created by Reggie the Island favorite Pharmacist.  Some people just smell good and are magnets for the little devils.  Once bitten, not a whole lot helps the vicious itching.  Some swear by ammonia based After Bite.  Others swear rubbing alcohol applied on the affected area stops itching.  It does smell better than ammonia.  Oral antihistamines and topical anti-itch creams are popular.  Ask in the drug store on Palm Ridge.  You'll find whole displays for this stuff, right next to all the sunblock and sunburn treatments there and in both supermarkets.  See, it happens to lots of people.  Like sunburn, mostly you'll have to wait it out.

Much is made of the presence of alligators on Sanibel.  Stay away from grassy areas near water, especially canals and lakes.  Alligators love hanging out there.  If you see an alligator in a residential area, report it promptly to the city.  They will handle the gator.  If you can take a quick photo fine, it will help the pros identify the gator, but never, ever approach or feed ANY wildlife on Sanibel, especially alligators.

Yes, sharks do put in an appearance.  Sometimes they can cause a beach to close for swimming until they leave.  The rule usually followed is between May and September don't go in the water between 5PM and 9AM.  Should sharks become pests your hotel or condo will post warning notices.

Red tide and red drift algae are discussed at length on their own InsiderPage.  Do not enter water with red tide contamination at Medium to High concentrations.  You may develop a bad rash or become ill.  The most common impact is usually coughing and watery eyes which will ease as you get away from the beach.  The greatest risk with red tides is collecting and eating shellfish that have been in contaminated water.  The shellfish exposed to red tide develop a neurotoxin that causes serious illness and death in humans.  DO NOT collect and eat shellfish on Sanibel or Captiva.  Buy what you need in the markets and restaurants.

Swimming safety is important.  Others than the sharks and jellyfish, there aren't too many dangers, but the calm and quiet Gulf sometimes make folks think they're swimming in a lake.  Not so.  Respect the water.  Watch for cross currents.  There can be riptides in some areas, usually around the Lighthouse.  There are NO lifeguards.  Mostly it is as calm and safe as a lake, but don't swim alone and do pay attention to any warnings and be VERY careful when the surf kicks up.

Weather safety:  Florida is the lightening strike capital of the US.  Afternoon thunderstorms are common.  The beach is not a good place to be, and being in the water is worse.  Get indoors.  Should there be any risk of hurricanes or other serious weather events the local news will give plenty of warning.  Follow all warnings and instructions for evacuation should they be given.

Should you be injured or become ill, there are two physicians and a dentist on the island.  For more serious problems, the excellent and well equipped Lee Memorial Health Park is just over the causeway in Ft Myers.

Safe vacationing!