General Beach Safety Tips
- Always listen to lifeguard’s whistles and swim directly in front of the lifeguard stand. Guards are aware of ocean hazards such as rip currents, inshore holes, and lateral currents. This awareness enables guards to keep bathers away from these hazards and safe. Never enter the water when lifeguards are not present.
- Do not play around or climb on rock jetties and groins. Fish hooks and broken glass frequently collect around these structures. Additionally, permanent rip currents often form near jetties and groins.
- To protect against both UVB and UVA rays of the sun, periodically apply sunblock (especially after swimming or exercising) whenever on the beach. Additionally, protect your eyes with sunglasses. Use an umbrella and hat when sitting on the beach for an extended period of time.
- Poor or non-swimmers who are using floatation devices, especially a device not attached to the body, should never be more than waist deep in the ocean. Loss of a floatation device in water overhead can result in tragedy.
- Do not feed the sea gulls; occasionally they bite.
- Follow the 30 / 30 rule during an electric storm. Leave the beach and seek safe shelter when less than 30 seconds occurs between the sighting of lightning and the hearing of thunder (flash to bang count). Do not return to the beach until 30 minutes have passed after your last flash to bang count. Whenever the lifeguards vacate the stand and leave the beach due to lightning, you should also leave the beach.
- Never dig parallel to the sand’s surface (a tunnel). Eventually the tunnel will collapse and suffocate anyone inside the tunnel. The sides of a hole dug in sand can also collapse. Dig holes only to a waist deep depth. If more than one person is in the hole, the depth should be waist deep of the shortest person in the hole. Holes should not be left unattended and should be filled in before you leave the beach.
- Walk small children to the lifeguard stand and instruct them to go to the stand whenever they are lost. Bring a unique flag or umbrella for children to use as a landmark. Special needs children should be introduced to the lifeguards. When you arrive at the beach, for added safety, take a cell phone picture of your child’s beach attire.
- Make sure beach umbrellas are anchored securely in the sand. Do not use an umbrella when high winds could possibly carry the umbrella down the beach and injure beach goers. When an umbrella is flying down the beach never approach it head-on. Approach an umbrella from behind as if you are chasing it.
- Protect feet with foot wear when the sand is extremely hot. This is especially true with young children whose feet are tender and not callused. Small children’s feet can actually be burnt to the point of blistering.
- Remain properly hydrated by drinking water whenever on the beach. This safety tip is of heightened importance if you consumed alcohol or coffee within the last twelve hours.
- Avoid strenuous exercise during extreme heat.
If caught in a rip current, remain calm to conserve energy and think clearly. Do not fight the current by trying to swim directly into shore. Swim parallel to the shoreline until you are no longer in the rip. When out of the current swim towards the shore.
HEAD, NECK, AND BACK INJURIES
Spinal Cord injuries are a serious problem in shore break, usually associated with body surfing or diving head first into a wave and hitting the ocean floor. Most spinal cord injuries are preventable.
- Do not dive headfirst into unknown water.
- Do not dive toward the bottom into oncoming waves. Hold your hands out in front of your head and dive through the wave. Another safe method of negotiating the waves is to squat down and allow the wave to roll over top of you.
- Always be aware of the wave action. Do not stand in the water with your back to the waves.
- Avoid bodysurfing, boogie boarding, or surfing at the crest of the wave. This practice will result in a rapid, dangerous drop from the top of the wave to the bottom of the wave. Always ride the shoulder of a wave.
- In a “wipeout”, land as flat as possible with your hands in front of you.
- While bodysurfing keep your arms in front of you to protect your head and neck.
BEACH WARNING FLAG COLOR LEGEND
Each lifeguard stand flies a beach warning flag. The color of the flag is an indication of how hazardous the water is at that moment and the level of caution to be exercised by bathers. Bathers should be aware that injury is possible regardless of the color of the flag being flown. Injuries occur even when the green flag is flying. ALWAYS EXERCISE CAUTION! The below legend gives a brief description of the meaning of each flag color.
Green flag: low hazard (calm conditions, exercise caution)
Yellow flag: medium hazard (moderate surf and or currents)
Red flag: high hazard (high surf and or strong currents)
Jelly fish are common during July and August. If you are stung by a jelly fish, a solution of 50 percent water and 50 percent vinegar will neutralize the venom of the sting. If you experience severe pain, hives, or difficulty breathing contact the nearest lifeguard.