Beach Safety 101
Experts offer advice for a safe day at the beach.
Conquering Rip Currents continued...
If you do happen to get caught in a rip current, "swim to the side one way or the other until you no longer have difficulties or feel yourself being pulled," Brewster advises.
Whatever you do, "don't fight the current because these currents can move up to 8 knots, which is faster than an Olympic swimmer can swim," he says. "In many cases, you will be simply unable to outpower the rip current, so you'll want to outsmart it," he says.
Another option is to tread water until someone can assist you, Brewster suggests.
"Learn to swim in the environment where you are going to be swimming," Brewster says. "You may be a confident pool swimmer, but that doesn't prepare you for conditions on the North shore of Oahu in Hawaii," he says. "Always swim near a lifeguard and never swim alone," he says. "Even a very confident swimmer can experience difficulties and if there is an emergency and you are alone, you may not be noticed."
Alcohol and Swimming Don't Mix
"You should avoid alcohol while swimming," Brewster says. According to the USLA, alcohol can reduce your body temperature and impair your swimming ability as well as impair judgment, causing you to take unnecessary risks.
Float Where You Can Swim
"If you have a raft, don't take it any further from shore than you have the capability to swim," Brewster says. "If you are using a floating device such as a body board or raft, use a leash so that if you fall off, you don't lose the device," he recommends.
Steer Clear of Sharks
Each summer, we tend to hear about at least one horrific shark attack. In fact, in mid-June, a surfer died after a shark bit him in the left thigh in waters off northeastern Brazil that are known for large concentrations of sharks, according to media reports. But shark attacks are actually rather rare. In fact, worldwide there is an average of 50 to 70 shark attacks every year, according to statistics compiled by the International Shark Attack File.
"You are far more likely to be injured in a car accident driving to the beach than to ever even see a shark," says Brewster. To avoid becoming a statistic, "don't wear shiny jewelry or swim at dusk," Brewster suggests. "Shark bites are believed to be a result of prey identification mistakes where the shark thinks you are a fish or a seal."