Beach Safety Tips
- Swim Near A Lifeguard: USLA statistics over a ten year period show that the chance of
drowning at a beach without lifeguard
protection is almost five times as great as drowning at a beach with lifeguards. USLA has calculated the chance that a
person will drown while attending a beach protected by USLA affiliated lifeguards at 1 in 18 million (.0000055%).
- Learn To Swim: Learning to swim is the best defense against drowning. Teach
children to swim at an early age. Children who are not taught when they are
very young tend to avoid swim instruction as they age, probably due to
embarrassment. Swimming instruction is a crucial step to protecting children
from injury or death.
- Never Swim Alone: Many drownings involve single swimmers. When you swim with a buddy,
if one of you has a problem, the other may be able to help, including signaling
for assistance from others. At least have someone onshore watching you.
- Don't Fight the Current: USLA has found that some 80% of rescues by USLA affiliated lifeguards at ocean beaches are caused by rip
currents. These currents are formed by surf and gravity, because once surf
pushes water up the slope of the beach, gravity pulls it back. This can create
concentrated rivers of water moving offshore. Some people mistakenly call this
an undertow, but there is no undercurrent, just an offshore current. If you are
caught in a rip current, don't fight it by trying to swim directly to shore.
Instead, swim parallel to shore until you feel the current relax, then swim to
shore. Most rip currents are narrow and a short swim parallel to shore will
bring you to safety.
- Swim Sober: Alcohol is a major factor in drowning. Alcohol can reduce body
temperature and impair swimming ability. Perhaps more importantly, both alcohol
and drugs impair good judgment, which may cause people to take risks they would
not otherwise take.
- Leash Your Board: Surfboards and body boards should be used only with a leash. Leashes
are usually attached to the board and the ankle or wrist. They are available in
most shops where surfboards and bodyboards are sold or rented. With a leash,
the user will not become separated from the flotation device. One additional
consideration is a breakaway leash. A few drownings have been attributed to
leashes becoming entangled in underwater obstructions. A breakaway leash avoids
- Don't Float Where You Can't
Swim: Non-swimmers often use
flotation devices, like inflatable rafts, to go offshore. If they fall off,
they can quickly drown. No one should use a flotation device unless they are
able to swim. Use of a leash is not enough because a non-swimmer may panic and
be unable to swim back to the flotation device, even with a leash. The only
exception is a person wearing a Coast Guard approved life jacket.
- Life Jackets = Boating
Safety: Some 80% of fatalities
associated with boating accidents are from drowning. Most involve people who
never expected to end up in the water, but fell overboard or ended up in the
water when the boat sank. Children are particularly susceptible to this problem
and in many states, children are required to be in life jackets whenever they
are aboard boats.
- Don't Dive Headfirst,
Protect Your Neck: Serious, lifelong injuries,
including paraplegia, occur every year due to diving headfirst into unknown
water and striking the bottom. body surfing can result in a serious neck injury
when the swimmer's neck strikes the bottom. Check for depth and obstructions
before diving, then go in feet first the first time; and use caution while
body surfing, always extending a hand ahead of you.
- At Home, You're the
Lifeguard: Drowning is the leading
cause of accidental death in many states for children age one and two. A major
reason for this is home pools, which can be death traps for toddlers. Many of
these deaths occur in the few moments it takes a parent to answer a telephone
or doorbell. NEVER leave a child alone anywhere near a pool. Make sure it is
completely fenced, that the fence is locked, and that there is no access from
the home to the pool. Don't let your child or a neighbor's child get into the
pool when you're not there.
- Shuffle Your Feet:
To avoid stepping on stingrays or other marine environment animals, shuffle
your feet whenever you are walking in the water. This will help prevent potentially painful
stings to the beach goer as well and unnecessary damage to the marine