How to fight back if a shark attacks

Tips on preventing, stopping shark attacks

By Doug Criss / Illustrations by India Hayes, CNN
Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

(CNN) - Ah, the joys of summer. Getting lost on road trips. Firework injuries. Shark attacks.

Yes, we know there are a ton of terrible things more likely to befall you than a shark taking a liking to you. But it does happen. In fact, new research shows that shark attacks are on the rise.

So, as you head to the beach, here are some tips to keep you from becoming shark snack.

 

Be the bigger man

 

See a shark and think it's about to attack? Act "big," because sharks respect size and strength, says shark expert George Burgess, director of the International Shark Attack File. And pop it on the nose. "A smack to the nose is startling to a shark," he says.

 

Thrash about

 

Attacks are rare; deaths are rarer. But if you do find yourself in the jaws of a great white -- or bull shark, or tiger shark -- don't play dead. "If you play dead, you're going to be dead," says Burgess. Because the shark, after taking an exploratory bite of you, will think it's won the battle and will commence to chomping.

 

Fight! Fight! Fight!

 

Deal with a shark like you would a neighborhood bully. "So hit him, and maybe he'll go home to mommy," Burgess says. If you got something handy, like your selfie stick or scuba gear, smack the shark with it. Or just use bare hands and go for the nose, gills and eyes -- all sensitive areas.

 

Spring for the shore

 

Successfully fought off Jaws? Hightail it to the beach. That might sound obvious, but it makes sense. All of that splashing and commotion (not to mention the blood) is sure to attract other sharks that might be swimming by, says Burgess. Once on solid ground, stop the bleeding and get help.

 

 

 

Whew, surely you don't ever want a repeat of that experience. So what should you differently next time?

 

Stay out of Florida

 

OK, we're kidding (but only a little). The Sunshine State usually leads the world in unprovoked shark attacks. Makes sense if you think about it: lengthy coastline + throngs of tourists = shark buffet.

 

Don't swim at night

 

Contrary to the joys Michael Stipe sings about, avoid night swimming, because you can't see the sharks coming. Also avoid mouths of rivers, inlets, channels and any place where fish congregate. "Where there's fish, there's predators," Burgess says.

 

Ditch the bling

 

Light reflecting off jewelry is a surefire shark draw. They think it's fish scales. So, leave those gold chains on the shore.

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