Updated December 16, 2016 by Hilary — Always check with on-duty lifeguards about the ocean conditions before going into the water. Never get into the ocean when lifeguards are not on duty. Always swim where a lifeguard can see you. Lifeguards are on duty from 9am – 7pm daily during the season. That’s plenty of time to get your beach fun in!
Please be aware that ocean conditions may change quickly along the coastline. When in doubt don’t go out! Here is a list of a few things that can occur when swimming or playing in the ocean:
Rip Currents are powerful, channeled currents of water flowing away from shore. They typically extend from the shoreline, through the surf zone, and past the line of breaking waves. Rip currents can occur at any beach with breaking waves or where a there is a stream or outflow into the surfline. The majority of ocean rescues made by lifeguards are due to victims struggling in rip currents.
A Sleeper Wave is a wave that is larger than the average wave height that has been observed. These can be unpredictable waves, which may occur even on days when most of the surf looks small. These large waves have been the cause of too many drownings over the years and can catch those close to the shoreline by surprise, washing them into turbulent water. Most victims are playing near or in the surf or shore fishing.
In an emergency — call 9-1-1
If you see someone in trouble, get help from a lifeguard. If a lifeguard is not available, have someone call 9-1-1. Always remain calm. Have someone spot the person in trouble or keep your eyes on the person. Throw the rip current victim something that floats and yell instructions on how to escape by having the victim swim out of the rip current, in a direction following the shoreline. When out of the current, direct them to swim towards shore.
Only professionally trained rescuers should attempt in-water rescues!
- Whenever possible, swim at a lifeguard-protected beach.
- Never swim alone – take a buddy with you.
- Learn how to swim in the surf. It’s not the same as swimming in a pool or lake.
- Be cautious at all times, especially when swimming at unguarded beaches. If in doubt, don’t go out.
- Stay Sober – don’t swim while intoxicated. Alcohol can affect your judgement and your body temperature – impairing your ability to swim.
- Obey all instructions and orders from lifeguards. Lifeguards are trained to identify potential hazards. Ask a lifeguard about the conditions before entering the water. This is part of their job.
- Stay at least 100 feet away from piers and jetties. Permanent rip currents often exist along side these structures.
- Due to dangerous currents, never swim in the inlets.
- Consider using polarized sunglasses when at the beach. They will help you to spot signatures of rip currents by cutting down glare and reflected sunlight off the ocean’s surface.
- Children should swim only with adult supervision.
- Don’t swim during rough seas. Broken necks and paralysis have resulted from swimmers being thrown into the ocean bottom headfirst.
- Do not swim near surfers – surfboard fins can cut you.
For more information on staying safe during your beach vacation check THIS out.