Beach season is right around the corner in many parts of the world, and a day at the beach can be great fun for the whole family. But before you dash into the waves to frolic in the ocean, think about safety first.
Swimming in the ocean can be exhilarating, but it’s not without risks. Unlike a pool, the conditions in the sea are constantly changing. The combination of powerful ocean waves, currents, and tides can quickly turn a fun day at the beach into a dangerous situation. However, taking proper precautions can help significantly reduce the chances of drowning incidents.
Learn How To Swim and Be Comfortable in the Ocean
Although knowing how to swim doesn’t guarantee complete safety in the ocean, it provides a significant advantage. According to research published by the National Institutes of Health, formal swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning by 88% in children. Adults who are not confident swimmers should also take swimming lessons to improve their skills and safety in the ocean.
Always Swim With a Buddy
Swimming alone in the ocean is not recommended, as it’s easier to become disoriented, fatigued, or injured. Swimming with a buddy allows you to keep an eye on each other while in the water. If one of you is in trouble, your buddy can call for help or assist you.
Check the Weather and Tide Conditions
Before venturing into the ocean, knowing the water conditions is essential. High winds and heavy rain can create strong currents and rough waves, making swimming dangerous. Tide conditions can also affect the strength of currents, so be aware of the tide times and avoid swimming during low tides when possible. If you’re unsure about the conditions, consult a lifeguard or other knowledgeable source.
Wear a Life Jacket
Wearing a life jacket can save your life, especially if you’re not a strong swimmer or are in rough waters. A US Coast Guard-approved life jacket can help you stay afloat and conserve your energy white waiting for help to arrive. However, life jackets come in different sizes and styles, and it’s crucial to get the right fit.
Don’t Underestimate the Power of Rip Currents
Rip currents are powerful, narrow channels of water that flow away from the shore that can easily overwhelm even the strongest swimmers. If you find yourself caught in a rip current, don’t try to swim against it. Instead, swim parallel to the shore until you escape the current, then swim back to shore. If you can’t swim out of the current, try to float or tread water and call for help.
Children can easily get in trouble in the ocean, even in shallow areas. Waves can knock them over or they can get caught in a riptide very quickly, so always supervise children at the beach and never leave them unattended. It’s also important to teach children to respect the ocean.
Know What To Do In an Emergency
Knowing what to do in an emergency can make a big difference in preventing drowning. If someone is in trouble, shout for help, alert a lifeguard, and call 911 immediately. If possible, use a buoy, paddleboard, or any floating object to keep the person afloat until help arrives.
Only Swim in Designated Areas With Lifeguards
Don’t swim in areas marked ‘No Swimming.’ While the ocean may look inviting and similar to the sea in other places, dangerous conditions may not be visible to the naked eye. For example, it might be a spot with sharp rocks, menacing water life that pose a threat to swimmers, or known undertow. Also, ensure a lifeguard is always on duty when swimming in the ocean. Going into the ocean without lifeguards present is risky.
Saltwater can dehydrate your body quickly, which can cause cramps, dizziness, and other symptoms that can be dangerous while swimming. So, make sure to bring plenty of water and drink regularly to stay hydrated.
Don’t Consume Alcohol
Drinking alcohol before swimming in any body of water is not recommended. It can impair your judgment, balance, and coordination, increasing the risk of drowning. Alcohol also affects your body’s ability to regulate temperature, making you vulnerable to hypothermia or heat exhaustion.
Everyone Can Help Prevent Drowning
A day at the beach can be a wonderful source of fun and relaxation, but you must take precautions to ensure everyone is safe. Together, we can end the heartache of losing a loved one due to drowning. Take our Water Safety Challenge to measure your family’s water safety competence, and help us provide water safety outreach to schools and community groups to keep everyone safe.