Living near the coast, I have spent countless hours at the beach swimming in the ocean. Sometimes I skip the swim and walk a few miles along the shoreline, watching the waves roll in and out. Perhaps you live inland and are currently planning a beach vacation. Before spending time in or near the ocean, consider the following tips:
Swim with other people
Not all beaches have lifeguards or posted tide schedules. Those that do are often located on the more popular swimming beaches. These areas are your best choice for ensuring you have a safe and fun time in the water. Avoid swimming in remote areas where no lifeguards are on duty.
You can get a copy of the local tide schedule online from NOAA. If you don’t have online access at the time, you can get a paper copy at nearby hotel or visitor’s center. Do not swim anywhere without knowing the tide schedule and never swim alone.
Read the signs
The signs posted on a beach are critical to your safety and the health of the ocean. If a posted sign says “No Swimming Allowed”, then obey the rule and find another swimming spot. These types of restrictions are enforced for several reasons. Perhaps the area has frequent rip currents or sneaker waves which can arrive without warning and turn a beautiful day at the beach into a tragedy.
Protecting ocean life is another reason why swimming may be restricted. Living Coral Reefs are dying off due to chemical waste, recreational boaters, and swimmers. Simply touching living coral reef species with hands or feet can permanently destroy the coral. These fragile underwater gardens serve as habitats to many sea creatures.
Come back to the basics
People who live near a beach are accustomed to hearing the same warnings over and over again. However the basics of swimming in the ocean and visiting the beach are as important to local swimmers as they are to visiting tourists. It is important for everyone to know basic beach safety rules and adhere to them at all times.
Never turn your back on the ocean or dive in headfirst, wear your sunscreen, swim with other people, don’t swim after sunset, and countless other guidelines are always relevant. If you live inland and are planning on visiting the beach, take the time to read up on beach safety. The Red Cross offers Water Safety and Swimming lessons for all age groups.
All it takes is a little planning and a lot of awareness to ensure your visit to the beach is a great one. Swimming in the ocean with family or friends can create joyful memories that will last a lifetime.