Beach & Water - Play it Safe!
Tragic water accidents happen quickly. The most common reason for aquatic
mishaps is a lack of safety knowledge. Below are some very important
- Supervise children
closely, even when lifeguards are present
- Don't rely on flotation devices, such
as rafts, you may lose them in the water
- If caught in a rip current, swim
sideways until free, don't swim against the current's pull
- Protect your head,
neck, and spine -- don't dive into unfamiliar waters -- feet first, first time
- If you are in trouble, call or wave for help
Follow regulations and lifeguard directions
- Swim parallel to shore if you wish
to swim long distances
- Scuba dive only if trained and certified -- and within
the limits of your training
- No glass containers at the beach -- broken glass and
bare feet don't mix
- No beach fires except in designated areas -- fire residue
and superheated sand can severely burn bare feet -- use a barbecue that is
elevated off the sand
- Report hazardous conditions to lifeguards or other beach
- Stay clear of coastal bluffs, they can collapse and cause
- Never turn your back to the ocean -- you may be swept off coastal bluffs
or tide pool areas and into the water by waves that can come without warning
Rip currents are the most threatening natural hazard
along our coast. They pull victims away from the beach. The United States
Lifesaving Association has
found that 80% of the rescues effected by ocean lifeguards involve saving those
caught in rip currents.
A rip current is a seaward moving
current that circulates water back to sea after it is pushed ashore by waves.
Each wave accumulates water on shore creating seaward pressure. This pressure is
released in an area with the least amount of resistance which is usually the
deepest point along the ocean floor. Rip currents also exist in areas where the
strength of the waves are weakened by objects such as rock jetties, piers, natural reefs, and even large groups of
bathers. Rip currents often look like muddy rivers flowing away from shore.
Rip currents are sometimes mistakenly called "rip tides" or
"undertows." These are misnomers. Rip currents are not directly
associated with tides and they do not pull people under.
Rip currents can be very strong and deep and stretch hundreds of yards from shore. Drowning occurs when swimmers become caught in a rip current and can no longer keep themselves afloat or swim back to shore.
Ask a lifeguard where to swim, stay within your ability and where you can touch bottom at all times. Always swim near and obey instructions from lifeguards.
SOURCES:Last Editorial Review: 6/30/2011
www.sandiego.gov. Beach & Water Safety.
www.sandiego.gov. Rip Currents.