Beach Safety Tips
Swimming in the ocean takes different skills, so before you get your feet wet, it’s best to learn how to swim in the surf. You should also swim only at a lifeguard-protected beach, within the designated swimming area. Obey all instructions and orders from lifeguards.
While you’re enjoying the water, keep alert and check the local weather conditions. Make sure you swim sober and that you never swim alone. And even if you’re confident in your swimming skills, make sure you have enough energy to swim back to shore.
Rip currents are responsible for deaths on our nation’s beaches every year, and for most of the rescues performed by lifeguards. Beach-goers should be aware of how dangerous rip currents are, and swim only at beaches with lifeguards in the designated swimming area. Rip currents can form in any large open water area, such as low spots and breaks in sandbars, or near structures such as jetties and piers.
Rip currents are usually visible from the shore and you can tell that they exist by the following characteristics:
- Sandy-colored areas indicate that a rip current is forming by washing out sand from the bottom as the water flows.
- Darker-colored water defines a deeper area and layers of dark water may indicate that a rip current has already formed.
- Lines of moving seaweed or foam could indicate a rip current.
- Choppy water that looks like a washing machine could indicate the formation of a rip current.
- A windy day could indicate a surge in rip currents.
- For your safety, be aware of the danger of rip currents and remember the following:
If you are caught in a rip current, stay calm and don’t fight the current.
- Swim parallel to the shore until you are out of the current. Once you are free, turn and swim toward shore.
- If you can't swim to the shore, float or tread water until you are free of the rip current and then head toward shore.
If you feel you can’t make it to the shore, draw attention to yourself by waving and calling for help.
- Stay at least 100 feet away from piers and jetties. Permanent rip currents often exist near these structures.
- If someone is in trouble in the water, get help from a lifeguard. If a lifeguard is not available, have someone call 9-1-1.Throw the victim something that floats - a lifejacket, cooler, inflatable ball and yell instructions on how to escape the current.
- When at the beach, check conditions before entering the water. Check to see if any warning flags are up or ask a lifeguard about water conditions, beach conditions, or any potential hazards.
Lifeguards are experts at spotting them, so pay attention to the ocean rescue team and they can point out where not to swim.
Don’t Hang Out by Marine Life
The ocean is home to a vast array of wild animals. Most of those colorful sea creatures are completely harmless, but some can cause injuries to humans. Usually it’s a defensive mechanism, but with that said, crabs do pinch and stingrays and jellyfish can sting.
If you see a brightly colored blue and purple balloon-like creature, don’t touch it and just swim away. Those are Portuguese Man o’ War jellyfish and they can deliver a painful sting. If you do get stung, stay calm and go see the lifeguard -they have special products on hand to help.
Sharks do live in the Atlantic Ocean, so just be aware and exercise caution.
Top 10 Beach Safety Tips
1. Only swim at lifeguard-protected beaches with designated swimming areas.
2. Stay alert, look for the colored flags and check local weather conditions.
3. Never swim alone, even if you're a confident swimmer.
4. Inexperienced swimmers and young children should wear U.S Coast Guard-approved life jackets and always be supervised.
5. Leave marine animals alone and watch out for plants and sea life that can be dangerous.
6. Stay at least 100 feet away from piers and jetties where rip currents are common.
7. If you’re caught in a rip current, stay calm and swim perpendicular to the current.
8. When lightning or a storm is approaching, leave the water immediately.
9. When in doubt, enter water feet first. Diving head first and bodysurfing can result in serious neck injuries.
10. Don’t forget to reapply water resistant sunscreen early and often.