Most kids in the South Bay have done at least one turn through the Junior Guards program. The Los Angeles County Fire Department runs these vital safety training programs for our swimmer kids. But if you’re new to the area or you have family visiting, review these tips for a safe day by the sea.
1. Bring a buddy – never swim alone.
2. Choose a spot near an open lifeguard station if you can. Check there first for any warnings or ocean conditions.
3. Don’t be a hero–know your limits and swim or surf within your abilities.
4. If the waves look bigger than you can handle, stay on the sand!
5. If the water is shallow, go feet first. Don’t dive in shallow water.
6. If you’re bringing your body board don’t forget your swim fins and leash.
7. Watch out for piers and rocks, and always obey warning signs.
8. Throwing sand is more than an annoyance–it can really hurt someone. Make sure you fill in holes before you leave the beach so no one else gets a nasty surprise.
9. Sunscreen should be applied often, and wear a hat to protect yourself.
10. You’re not the only one on the beach–respect other beach goers and remember your manners.
11. The bicycle path can be a busy place. Treat it like a road and always look both ways before crossing!
12. Someone missing? If you or someone in your group gets lost, the nearest lifeguard can help.
Watch out for Rip Currents
Rip currents are a leading hazard to beach swimmers. These are currents that run from shallow water near the shore to deeper waters beyond the surfline. It’s almost like a river. If the beach has breaking waves it can have rip currents. The bigger the waves, the bigger the rip currents. . Inexperienced swimmers can be caught in the current and pulled out to deep water.
How to spot a rip current:
- A channel of churning, choppy water.
- A difference in water color.
- A line of foam moving seaward.
- A break in the incoming wave pattern.
Here are ways to escape a rip current:
- Remain calm.
- Tread water and float.
- Stay on your bodyboard or surfboard.
- Get the attention of a lifeguard or a bystander who can alert a lifeguard.
- If you are able to self-rescue, swim parallel to shore first to get out of the rip current before swimming into shore.
Stay Away from Stingrays
Stingrays are flat fish with eyes and nostrils on the top side of their bodies. Their mouths and gills underneath. They are bottom-dwellers and can be found partially buried in shallow sandy waters during the summer. If they are stepped on, they will sting–and that is no fun. It’s a good idea to shuffle your feet along the sandy bottom to scare those stingrays away before they sting.
If you do get stung, be sure to get help from a lifeguard or paramedic right away.