It’s that time of year again to pull out the swim suits, apply sunscreen and put on your favorite pair of flip flops and head to the white sand beach to enjoy the magnificent waters of the Gulf.
Before you venture out remember beach safety is number one! To help you remain safe this summer keep alert and check your local weather conditions before you head out. Every beach access will have colorful beach flags to alert you to current water conditions. Not all beach accesses will have lifeguards so before you enter the water make sure you are able to swim in the surf conditions and that you have enough energy to make it back to the shore. U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets are a great way to protect young children and inexperienced swimmers. Never dive into the water head first and pay close attention to children and elderly as waves can cause a loss of balance and footing. As much as we all love aquatic sea life, avoid contact for yours and the animal’s safety.
Be aware of Rip Currents and if you are caught, stay calm and don’t fight the current. Rip Currents can form in any large area, low spots and breaks in sandbars, or near jetties and piers. It is recommended to only swim at beaches with lifeguards.
Remember to swim parallel to the shore until you are out of the current and once free, turn and swim to the shore. If you feel like you cannot swim to the shore, float or tread water until you are free of the rip current and then swim back to the shore. If you feel you cannot make it to the shore draw attention to yourself by waving and calling for help. It is best to not swim next to piers and Jetties because permanent rip currents often exist near these structures.
If someone is in trouble and a lifeguard is not present call 9-1-1 and throw the person a life-jacket, cooler, or anything that floats and yell instructions to them on how to escape. It is not recommended for anyone without proper training to enter the water to help rescue someone from a rip current.
For a guide to beach flag colors click here…and remember, have fun and be safe at the beach!