Perhaps, there is nothing more exhilarating than playing in the crashing ocean waves – nothing so beautiful as the tides changing hands. But as frequent beach-goers, we also respect the gulf waters as more powerful than we are. Knowing the dangers of rip-tides and the possibility of harmful sea life… this could save your vacation.
1. Know the Flag Warning System
Let’s be honest, even though the recommendation is that no one enter the water with one Red Flag, many people still do. If you do want to risk it, the most experienced person in your group should test the currents first. There have already been some serious accidents this summer during One Red Flag days. Why? Officials are hesitant to upgrade to Two Red Flags, because that means the beach waters are closed to the public. Often, they do not do this until an incident has already occurred.
2. Respect the Water
The Gulf waves are much smaller than the ones in the Pacific, or even the Atlantic. But in the Gulf, even when the waves don’t look large or when you decide to go knee-deep, the waters can still become dangerous very quickly. Be aware of the currents, the changing tides, the size of the waves, and the friends and family with you anytime you are in the water.
3. Swim Horizontal to the Shoreline
If you get caught in a Rip Current, swim horizontal to the shoreline. I was once caught in a rip-tide and it was terrifying. I had heard the horizontal swim strategy before, but the moment I felt my body being pulled out to sea, I panicked and began several futile attempts to swim straight toward the shore. Something in providence or my subconscious must have remembered the horizontal rule because I don’t remember consciously swimming sideways, but I did feel the current release me as I moved westward. If you don’t remember anything else, please, please remember that rule.
4. Don’t Panic
If you do get caught in a strong current, don’t panic like I did. Make an effort to relax your mind and focus on taking good breaths. Humans are actually fairly buoyant in salt water, so the more you relax and focus the better chance you have of staying on top of the water and riding out the current.
5. Keep a Float Handy
In rough waters, lifeguards recommend using the aid of a boogie board, float or noodle. If you decide to stay on shore while your family and friends hit the waves, you should also keep a flotation device handy. That way, if you see someone else in trouble, you won’t put yourself in danger in a rescue attempt.
Of course, we hope you never have to remember any of these tips during your vacation with My Beach Getaways, but we think an informed swimmer is a safe swimmer. So, take these tips with you, and enjoy the beach!