Beach Safety Tips
Beach safety is sometimes the last thing we think about when we first arrive. The sand is soft, the air is warm, and the water looks inviting. It's hard to beat a day at the beach, especially an ocean beach. Whether you find yourself on the Jersey Shore, at one of the beaches in the Los Angeles area, at the Oregon coast, or enjoying one of the hundreds of Hawaiian beaches, there can be danger lurking.
Its not that beaches are inherently dangerous, You just have to know a bit about what beach safety is all about, use a little common sense, and keep your eyes open. High surf or rogue waves are obviously potential hazards at ocean beaches. You don't even have to be near the water, as high cliffs or bluffs present their own dangers, whether you're walking on top along the edge, seldom good practice, or standing at the foot, where if you see large boulders around you it means the next one to fall could land on your head.
Obey Those Signs (And Lifeguards) - A look at some of the more commonly used warning signs on beaches can provide a good lesson as to the things one should watch out for. Warning signs and lifeguards, as well as forecasts on weather or water conditions are your best beach safety information sources.
Hazard warning signs, or lifeguards, will warn you of high or dangerous surf conditions, areas where there are sudden drop offs, a dangerous shore break, or areas where rip currents are known to be present. If you see a sign that says "No Diving" it's best to pay attention. You don't have to dive from a very great height into water that is shallower than you might think, or where there are underwater boulders that are closer to the surface than you might think, to receive a possibly life-threatening injury. If a sign says "No Swimming" or shows a swimmer with a diagonal line across the sign, don't bother to "test" the situation. Just don't swim in that area - there's a reason.
Watch For Those Jellyfish - On some Hawaiian beaches you'll sometimes see jellyfish warning signs. The Box Jellyfish and the Man-O-War are two that you want to steer completely clear of. They aren't always just in the water. Small jellyfish are sometimes washed up with the tide and stranded on the beach. A Man-O-War may be not much bigger than a quarter, but if you step on one with bare feet, you'll know it! Some signs advise waders to watch for slippery rocks, or waders and snorkelers to be on the lookout for coral, which can be very sharp.
Watch Those Logs - On the Oregon coast or Washington coast you might see signs warning you're be on the lookout for rouge or sneaker waves. If you're near the water's edge it's never a good idea to keep your back turned to the ocean for very long or the first thing you know you might find yourself being carried out to sea. In the Pacific Northwest, logs can be a hazard. Even a small log moved or tossed by a wave is quite capable of causing an injury. A waterlogged piece of timber can be very heavy and carry a potentially lethal clout.
And The Rest - Some of the other rules of beach safety, especially at the ocean, are never swim alone, and always be aware of water conditions, including knowing how to spot rip tides, before going out. Beach safety also means using sunscreen or sun block, watching out for valuable items or leaving them at home, and above all, knowing your own limits.