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Know Before You Go To The Beach

First - Know How To Swim.  You should be a strong swimmer before you go into the ocean.  Swim where lifeguards are on duty.  Always obey all lifeguard orders and instructions.  Never swim alone.

Know the local weather forecast before you go to the beach.  Click on the following links to search for Weather, Surf Zone Forecasts, a Beach Forecast webpage from the National Weather Service, as well as some important science about climate, hurricanes and more from NOAA - National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration:
The National Weather Service
National Weather Service Surf Zone Forecast
National Weather Service Beach Forecast Model

Know what hazards you may encounter before you go to the beach and
Know how you can keep safe from those hazards so you can have fun and
enjoy your time while you're there.

Beach Flag Warning System Image

Know what the warning flags mean. Not all beaches have flags. Read and obey the posted beach warning signs and flags you may see. Knowing these things and taking the few moments of time to do this can make all the difference for your safety while you are at the beach. Learn more from NOAA's National Ocean Service and mitigate the risks to stay safe: Ten Dangers at the Beach

Know the water quality status before you go swimming.  Every Friday, from late May through September, Sound Rivers updates the monitored sample results for water quality conditions of the Tar-Pamlico and Neuse River Watersheds. From October through April, samples will be collected Monthly from a limited number of Swim Guide sites. Click on this link to view their most recent water quality status updates: Swim Guide

Know that cold water can be dangerous.  Know how you can help protect yourself. Be safe from cold water hazards: Cold Water Hazards and Safety

Know How Incidents Involving Rip Currents Can Be Prevented.

Can You Spot The Rip by NOAA

A rip current will Not pull you under the water and is Not "under tow".

A rip current is Not a "riptide", as it is Not a tide.


Rip Current Survival Guide

Rip currents are complex, can be dangerous, powerful, fast moving and they can occur at any beach which has breaking waves.  Rip currents need breaking waves to form and there are many different kinds of rip currents. Don't place yourself in harms way.  Lack of skills to identify rip currents is a major safety concern.  Knowledge is power that can help you take control of the situation to make the best decisions for your safety.  When people are able to recognize the signs of an operating rip current they can avoid that area in the water. Click on the following link for some more information from NOAA Ocean Today: Rip Current Science

Know what to do if you see someone who is caught in a rip current. The best thing you can do for them is to throw them some form of flotation for them to hold onto and keep them afloat, while you inform a life guard and get help.

Know what to do if you find yourself caught in a rip current - Do Not try to swim against the flow of a rip current.  Doing so will exhaust your energy - Not a survival option.  The best way you can be safe is to be calm, conserve your energy by floating with the flow of the current and know it will eventually slow down and stop flowing.  Signal Wave Your Arm While Calling For Help and Think to assess the situation, your surroundings and what your best options may be.  If you have enough energy and you feel able, your best option may be to swim to either side and out of the rip current by swimming parallel to the land. (Refer to the Break the Grip of the Rip image posted below)  Once you are out of the rip current, then swim toward the shore (land), recognizing that you could get caught in another rip current along the way.  Be aware that rip currents can carry you quite a far distance away from the shore in a relatively short period of time.  Your Situational Awareness Is Important!

Panic and fatigue from trying to fight a rip are the cause of tragedy.  You can be caught in a rip current and not realize it, until you find yourself being pulled away from the beach, while struggling to swim causes you fatigue and you are not getting any closer to the shore.  If this happens to you, try not to panic, just float and conserve your energy.  Fear is Not Your Friend In A Rip Current.  Your body may have a panic response, because it can be a scary experience. The best approach to take to keep you safe, is one which eliminates panic.  Even the very fit and best of swimmers can find themselves in trouble, if panic and fatigue take control.

sm poster top break rip grip  sm sz poster bottom break rip grip

"Anyone Can Drown, No One Should.",
U.N. and W.H.O.

"Anyone Can Drown, No One Should"  - The United Nations (UN) and The World Health Organization (WHO) - World Drowning Prevention Day is the 25th of July each year.
"Drowning is one of the world’s most preventable, neglected and pressing public health issues." "Drowning is the 3rd leading cause of unintentional injury death worldwide, accounting for 7% of all injury-related deaths."
WHO - Global Report On Drowning: preventing a leading killer
WHO - Preventing drowning: an implementation guide

Teaching/Learning swimming, water safety and safe rescue skills are among the best of the evidence-based ways to prevent drowning.

The signs that a person in the water is drowning are often missed, before they go under water. A drowning victim doesn't look like what you see in the movies and on television. When a person is drowning, they go silent, becoming unable to call for help and unable to move their arms to properly reach for a flotation device.
The following is a link to an important article by retired U.S. Coast Guard Chief Warrant Officer 2 Mario Vittone, Norfolk, VA on how a drowning can actually appear:
"Drowning Doesn't Look Like Drowning"

Some of the signs to be aware of when a person in the water is drowning:

  • Head low in the water, mouth at water level
  • Hyperventilating or gasping
  • Eyes glassy and empty, unable to focus
  • Eyes are closed
  • Hair over forehead or eyes
  • Trying to roll over on the back
  • Not using legs - vertical
  • Appear to be climbing an invisible ladder
  • Trying to swim in a particular direction without making headway

Be Deliberately Aware Of Your Trash and
Do The Right Thing With It.

Marine Debris is a significant threat to our marine environment and is a pervasive issue globally. Human beings are the source of the problem. We must change our destructive behavior and become good stewards of our environment. Managing this problem starts with each one of us. Learn more from the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Marine Debris Program Office of Response and Restoration:

SAVING INKY May1994 - A video true story about the rescue of a Pygmy Sperm Whale who had ingested several pieces of plastic which blocked her digestive system.