California Surf Lifesaving Association suggests using a common
sense approach when visiting the beach and any other outdoor recreational
pursuit. Common sense says that awareness and knowing personal
limitations can PREVENT aquatic injuries and fatalities. Awareness
of the beach environment and changing conditions may be critical
at many beaches. Ripcurrents, sidecurrents, sandbars, piers, jetties,
marine life, and weather conditions CHANGE all the time.
best person to ask for beach conditions is the LIFEGUARD. The
best (safest) place to visit the beach is near an open lifeguard
tower or station. Not all beaches have lifeguards and those that
do have different schedules. Due to CHANGING conditions (early
or late in the day, at night and off-peak seasons such as the
spring, fall and winter) sometimes only a small percentage of
lifeguards may be on duty at any given time. Some lifeguard towers
will be open and some closed. If there is a choice, enjoy the
beach near an open lifeguard station.
are the best person to understand any personal limitations when
actively enjoying the beach. Remember, the ocean demands great
RESPECT and the ocean is not a pool. Many good pool swimmers are
rescued by lifeguards in the ocean. Second, a leading national
cause for aquatic fatalities and major traumas for young adults
is alcohol . In the water at the beach it is not good enough to
know when to say when. Simply put, salt water and alcohol do not
ask about your local beaches check the Chapter/Agency
page for contact information.
California Surf Lifesaving Association works in collaboration
with USLA to establish a variety of programs to improve beach
safety and awareness in the aquatic environment. Our goal is to
prevent beach related fatalities and injuries. We want you to
enjoy your day at the beach!
USLA and CSLSA Top Ten Safety Tips
Project Wipeout - Beach Safety Lessons (YouTube)
Information on Ripcurrents, Longshore Currents and
Information on Avoiding Spinal Injuries at the
Information on National Beach Safety Week, Sample
Letter and Proclamation.
Common Marine Animals. (under construction)
find out more about your local beaches check the CHAPTER/AGENCY
page for contact information
1. Learn To Swim: Learning to swim is the best defense against
drowning. Teach children to swim at an early age. Children who
are not taught when they are very young tend to avoid swim instruction
as they age, probably due to embarrassment. Swimming instruction
is a crucial step to protecting children from injury or death.(top)
2. Swim Near A Lifeguard: USLA statistics over a ten year period
show that the chance of drowning at a beach without lifeguard
protection is almost five times as great as drowning at a beach
with lifeguards. USLA has calculated the chance that a person
will drown while attending a beach protected by USLA affiliated
lifeguards at 1 in 18 million (.0000055%). (top)
3. Swim with a Buddy: Many drownings involve single swimmers.
When you swim with a buddy, if one of you has a problem, the
other may be able to help, including signaling for assistance
from others. At least have someone onshore watching you. (top)
4. Check with the Lifeguards: Lifeguards work continually to identify hazards that might affect you. They can advise you on the safest place to swim, as well as places to avoid. They want you to have a safe day. Talk to them when you first arrive at the beach and ask them for their advice.(top)
5. Use Sunscreen & Drink Water: Everyone loves a sunny day, but exposure to the sun affects your body. Without sunscreen, you can be seriously burned. The sun’s rays can also cause life-long skin damage and skin cancer. To protect yourself always choose "broad spectrum" sunscreen rated from 15 to 50 SPF, or clothing that covers your skin, and reapply sunscreen regularly throughout the day. The sun can also dehydrate you quickly. Drink lots of water and avoid alcohol, which contributes to dehydration. Lifeguards treat people for heat exhaustion and heat stroke from time to time. If you feel ill, be sure to contact a lifeguard.
6. Obey Posted Signs and Flags: It sometimes seems as though there are too many signs, but the ones at the beach are intended to help keep you safe and inform you about local regulations. Read the signs when you first arrive and please follow their direction. Flags may be flown by lifeguards to advise of hazards and regulations that change from time to time. You can usually find informational signs explaining the meaning of the flags, or just ask the lifeguard.
7. Keep the Beach and Water Clean: Nobody likes to see the beach or water littered with trash. Even in places where beach cleaning services pick up trash daily, it may linger on the beach for hours, causing an unsightly mess and threatening the health of birds and animals. Do your part. Pick up after yourself and even others. Everyone will appreciate you for it.
8. Learn Rip Current Safety: USLA has found that some 80% of rescues by USLA affiliated lifeguards at ocean beaches are caused by rip currents. These currents are formed by surf and gravity, because once surf pushes water up the slope of the beach, gravity pulls it back. This can create concentrated rivers of water moving offshore. Some people mistakenly call this an undertow, but there is no undercurrent, just an offshore current. If you are caught in a rip current, don't fight it by trying to swim directly to shore. Instead, swim parallel to shore until you feel the current relax, then swim to shore. Most rip currents are narrow and a short swim parallel to shore will bring you to safety.
9. Enter Water Feet First: Serious, lifelong injuries, including paraplegia, occur every year due to diving headfirst into unknown water and striking the bottom. Bodysurfing can result in a serious neck injury when the swimmer's neck strikes the bottom. Check for depth and obstructions before diving, then go in feet first the first time; and use caution while bodysurfing, always extending a hand ahead of you.(top)
10. Wear A Life Jacket: Some 80% of fatalities associated with boating accidents are from drowning. Most involve people who never expected to end up in the water, but fell overboard or ended up in the water when the boat sank. Children are particularly susceptible to this problem and in many states, children are required to be in life jackets whenever they are aboard boats.(top)
to swim and consider participating
junior lifeguard program.
Visit Hoag Hospital's Project Wipeout website for beach
safety video clips and free educational downloads.