Skip to Content

As the Fourth of July holiday approaches, many are looking forward to hitting the beach and enjoying the sun and sand. However, recent tourist deaths in Panama City Beach have brought awareness to the dangers of rip currents.

Bay County Sheriff Tommy Ford stated that he is "...beyond frustrated at the situation that we have with tragic and unnecessary deaths in the Gulf..." Rip currents have become more prevalent in recent years and can be particularly hazardous to swimmers. It's important to educate ourselves on beach safety to stay safe this holiday weekend and throughout the summer. Keep reading to learn tips on how to stay safe while enjoying the beach and minimizing risks.

What Is a Rip Current?

Rip currents are narrow, fast-moving channels of water that move away from the beach and are caused by trapped water between the shore and sandbar. While experienced surfers use them to reach waves, beachgoers can be in grave danger if they encounter a rip current.

Attempts to swim against the seaward-flowing water is the main cause of rip current drownings. Rip currents can move up to 6 1/2 feet per second, leading to swimmers being carried farther out to sea. Awareness and preparation are key to avoiding the dangers presented by rip currents.

What to Do If You’re Caught in a Rip Current

If you're ever caught in a rip current, it’s important to not panic and try to out power it. According to Bourne Fire Department Deputy Chief Richard Emberg, the best thing to do is swim laterally to get out of the current or go calmly with the current until it slows down, and then swim diagonally towards the shore.

Tips to keep in mind if you’re caught in a rip current include:

  • Do not try to fight the current
  • Try to stay calm
  • Swim parallel to the shore
  • If you are unable to escape, float or tread water
  • Try to call or wave for assistance

In addition, if you see someone struggling in the water, don't try to save them by running in after them. Instead, call 911 immediately and notify the closest lifeguard. They are professionally trained to rescue someone in the water.

4 Beach Water Safety Tips

1. Check the Weather & Beach Warnings

Planning a beach day is always exciting, but being prepared is essential to ensuring a safe and enjoyable time. The National Weather Service recommends checking the official surf zone forecast and beach advisories before heading out. It's crucial to arrive knowing the local weather, surf, and tide forecasts. This information can help prevent unexpected dangers and allow for optimal beach conditions, making for a perfect day on the coast.

2. Swim in Lifeguarded Areas

To protect your safety while swimming, you should only swim in lifeguarded areas. Reports from lifeguard agencies show that the odds of a swimmer fatally drowning at a beach protected by the United States Lifesaving Association (USLA) affiliated lifeguards is 1 in 18 million (.0000055%).

It is important to note that while swimmers should take responsibility for their own safety, lifeguards are there in case any unforeseen dangerous situations occur. As stated by the USLA, “…lifeguards are trained to recognize hazardous conditions, advise swimmers how to stay safe, respond to emergencies, and provide medical care for those in need.” To avoid accidents, lifeguards are constantly on watch and interacting with the public to prevent drowning and injury. That’s why before swimming, check with lifeguards for designated swim areas and safety advice.

3. Don’t Swim Alone

When swimming, it’s important to not do it alone. Finding a buddy to join you can make all the difference in case of an emergency. This should be someone you trust, such as a friend or family member, who knows your swimming abilities.

Additionally, letting others know where you are going and when you plan to return is crucial. Not only will it ensure that you are accounted for, but it can also speed up the process of finding you in case something goes wrong. It only takes a moment for the water to become dangerous, so always take precautions and swim with another person.

4. Swim According to Your Capability

As you swim at the beach, it's important to keep in mind your own personal capabilities. This means being aware of how far you can comfortably swim without becoming fatigued. It's important to avoid pushing yourself too far and placing yourself in a dangerous situation.

If you do become tired, be sure to return to shore to rest and recover before continuing. By keeping these simple guidelines in mind, you can ensure your safety and enjoy a worry-free swimming experience.

The beach is a fun place for the whole family, but safety should always be a top priority. Following safety tips can help prevent accidents, but unfortunately, they can still happen. When an accident occurs due to someone's negligence, it's important to take action. Our team of experienced drowning and swimming pool accident lawyers at Goldstein Hayes & Lina, LLC can help you and your loved ones pursue the compensation and justice you deserve.

Contact us if you've been injured in a pool or at the beach due to someone's negligence. Call (888) 425-6070 or reach out to us online.