Swimming in the ocean is not the same as swimming in a pool or lake. Wind, waves, the change of the tide, the slope of the beach, an other factors can cause strong currents to be present in the water even on the calmest days. Ocean conditions can change from day to day and hour to hour. Before going in the water, spend a few moments watching the waves. Wave patterns are a good indicator of the presence of currents and of places where deep water and other "surprises" are located.
Swim Near a Lifeguard
Never swim alone. Lifeguards and information located on lifeguard stands provide beach goers with valuable information about current beach conditions and other hazards to look out for, which could save your life.
The chance of a person drowning at a lifeguarded beach is 1 in 18 million according to the USLA.
Lifeguards are on duty 10 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. Memorial Day through Labor Day with a roving patrol through October 15.
Red indicates NO SWIMMING, usually due to rough surf and/or strong currents.
Yellow indicates strong currents, swim with caution. If in doubt, ALWAYS ask a lifeguard.
Purple indicate sea life is actively present. This could be jellyfish, stingrays, or other marine life. Check with a lifeguard for more information.
Know Your Location In Case of Emergency
Despite what you may have heard, 911 operators cannot immediately locate you when you call from a cell phone. When visiting the beach, pay attention to what street you access the beach from, or what milepost you are located at. Every second counts in an emergency.
Did you know the average speeds of rip currents are 1 to 2 feet per second, but they have been measured moving as fast as 8 feet per second - faster than an Olympic swimmer!
Some clues that a rip current may be present:
• A channel of churning, choppy water
• A difference in water color
• A line of foam, seaweed, or debris moving seaward
• A break in the incoming wave pattern
If you are caught in a rip current:
• Stay calm and don’t fight the current.
• Escape the current by swimming in a direction following the shoreline. When free of the current, swim at an angle away from the current and toward shore.
• If you are unable to escape by swimming, float or tread water. When the current weakens, swim at an angle away from the current toward the shore.
• If at any time you feel you will be unable to reach shore, draw attention to yourself: face the shore, yell and wave for help.
The Hidden Dangers of Sand Holes
• Did you know that national statistics comparing sand hole collapses to shark attacks confirms that you are far more likely to experience a sand hole collapse than a shark attack.
• No one goes to the beach thinking that they will leave with a broken ankle or worse. Unattended holes can cause numerous injuries to other beach-goers.
• Holes make it challenging for first responders to quickly get to an emergency on the beach. They can also cause damage to their vehicles.
• Who doesn’t love cute little sea turtles?! Holes on the beach can trap hatchlings and/or their mother and cause fatal results.
Digging holes in the sand can be a serious hazard. If you want to dig a hole on the beach, ONLY dig shallow holes and ALWAYS fill them in once you're finished. Help keep everyone on our beaches safe.
If you see something unsafe, report it to the nearest lifeguard or call the County’s non-emergency line at 252-473-3444. For any emergencies, immediately call 911.