FOLLOW THESE TIPS FOR A SAFE DAY AT THE BEACHBy Leslie Terjesen on Monday, June 6, 2016
Ocean County Freeholder Deputy Director Gerry P. Little, Liaison to the Ocean County Board of Health, said, “Any beach can be dangerous, and you to need exercise caution, especially if children are with you. Swimmers always need to be careful. One of the biggest dangers ocean swimmers have is a rip current. Many times when we hear of drownings at local beaches it is due to someone getting caught in a rip current.”
A rip current is created when the back-rushing of water from the beach is channeled in a direction away from the shore,” explained Daniel Regenye, Ocean County Health Department (OCHD) Public Health Coordinator. “Some of these can be strong enough to pull you far away from the beach. In studies done by the U.S. Lifesaving Association, it was found that 80 percent of the rescues done by ocean lifeguards involve persons caught in rip currents. Many of these currents are often near man-made objects, such as piers and jetties which tend to funnel the current offshore which can pull against a swimmer.”
Regenye continued, “If you feel a rip current or think you might be in one, NEVER swim against it. Try to stay calm, float or tread water and then swim perpendicular to the current which usually means parallel to the shore.”
Another dangerous item beachgoers face has nothing to do with water. It’s alcohol — and too much of it. Alcohol is one of the biggest factors in drownings on recreational beaches, and studies show that 50 percent of all drowning victims over the age of 13 had significantly high blood-alcohol content. Here are some tips to have a safe time at the beach:
- Never swim alone and if possible use a “buddy” system to check on each other.
- Swim near a lifeguard and always make sure you can see the lifeguard. You can also check out the conditions of the water from the lifeguards. Most drownings occur where no lifeguard is present.
- Wear a Coast-Guard approved lifejacket and avoid cheap plastic rafts, especially if you are a weak swimmer. Be aware that currents and offshore wind may move floating objects quickly away from the beach.
- Stay close to kids. Don’t let children swim near permanent structures because there is a much higher chance of a rip current there. Keep a close eye on kids as they tend to wander off by themselves at a crowded beach. Point out the lifeguard stand to them in case they cannot find you.
A trip to the beach should be fun but can quickly turn into a nightmare. Follow the rules posted at beaches and make sure a lifeguard is on duty when swimming.
Visit the Ocean County Health Department website at www.ochd.org or follow the Health Department on Twitter@OCpublichealth or like the Health Department on Facebook.