It’s no secret that Clearwater Beach is consistently ranked in the Top Beaches in the U.S. and even in the world!
But all trips to the beach aren’t always fun in the sun. To have a happy and safe time, its best to be aware of potential dangers, such as strong currents, dangerous marine life, lightning and contaminated water.
While lifeguards do watch beachgoers, it’s important to learn about the flags, signs and rip currents.
Safety rules that can save your life:
– Stay in sight of the lifeguard. Stick to designated swimming areas.
– Know your family’s swimming skill levels. Less proficient swimmers may struggle with waves and currents.
– Use the buddy system – Never go swimming alone, especially in the ocean.
– Always enter the water feet first – Every year, serious injuries occur because of diving headfirst into water.
– Drink plenty of water. This is sooo important, especially in Florida, where not drinking enough H2O and not getting enough shade puts you at risk of heat stroke. Know the symptoms: nausea; headache; confusion; a rapid heartbeat; and hot, bright red skin.
– Apply plenty of sunscreen – frequently! Even if you are at the beach on a cloudy day, you can still get a sunburn. About 80 percent of the sun’s UV rays can pass through clouds to unprotected skin.
– This shouldn’t be a problem on Clearwater Beach (right??), as no alcohol is allowed, but always swim sober. Alcohol impairs your judgment, so you may not be able to notice a dangerous situation in the water, much less get out of it.
– Pay attention to and obey safety signs. They’re there for a reason, so you are informed of any warnings or dangers.
– Learn the meanings of beach warning flags.
- Green = Low hazard (exercise caution)
- Yellow = Medium hazard (moderate surf and/or currents)
- Single Red = High hazard (high surf and/or strong currents)
- Double Red = The beach is closed to the public
- Purple = Dangerous marine life (but not sharks), flown with either Red or Yellow
– Pay attention to the weather.
– Do not swim near or jump off of Pier 60.
– Understand rip currents. Rip currents are very strong currents of water that can be as long as 2,500 feet but are generally no wider than 30 feet. These powerful narrow currents move along the surface of the sea and usually occur at the points of the shoreline where the ocean is deepest. Rip currents can sometimes be seen from shore when they interfere with the ebb and flow of a wave. Once you get caught in one, it can be extremely difficult to get out, especially for a weaker swimmer. To escape a rip current, curb your instinct to swim against it and head to shore. Instead, swim parallel to the beach rather than directly toward it. Eventually, you’ll swim out of the current and will be able to turn and swim to shallower water.
– Watch out for sea creatures. Coming in contact with a shark is pretty rare, but jellyfish and stingrays are a different story. Don’t touch – or even follow – one if you see any in the water – even a dead jellyfish can still sting you. Shuffle your feet in the water to avoid stepping on an unsuspecting critter. If anyone in your party gets stung, notify a lifeguard and seek medical attention right away.
– Keep your phone nearby in case you or someone nearby may be in need of help.
– Know what to do in an emergency. Check the water if a child is missing as seconds count in preventing death or disability. Always alert a lifeguard and ask someone to call EMS. CPR knowledge is also extremely valuable. You can get a certification from the American Red Cross.
– Throwing your trash out in designated bins is good for both the beach environment and for visitors. Clearwater Beach is beautiful and everyone wants to keep it that way!
Safety photos courtesy of the City of Clearwater; Feature image by Kelly S. Kelly