Spending the day at the beach is a great way to have fun and relax, but it is important to follow rules and guidelines that help keep everyone safe, according to officials with the American Medical Response agency on Maui. The United States Lifesaving Association estimates that more than 100 people die each year due to dangerous rip currents at US beaches.
“From the water to the sand and the sun, there are a lot of hidden dangers at the beach that residents and visitors should be aware of before settling in for a relaxing day,” said Mona Arcinas, operations manager of American Medical Response Maui County.
American Medical Response offers these tips for making sure a great day in the water doesn’t turn dangerous:
- Swimming in the ocean is different than lake or pool swimming. Swimmers need to be alert for changes in water depth, drop-offs, changing water and weather conditions, undercurrents or rip currents, local marine life, boats and watercraft.
- Only swim in designated areas that have a lifeguard on duty.
- Never swim alone.
- Never let children swim or play near the water unsupervised.
- Keep an eye on all members of your party. Drownings can happen quickly and without much sound or movement. Currents can also move people quickly, so keep track of friends and family at all times when they are in the water.
- If you are caught in a rip current, swim parallel to the shoreline until you can safely reach the beach.
- If you’re in distress in the water, draw attention to yourself. If you are unable to swim to shore safely, splash, wave your arms over your head and yell out for help.
- Never go swimming when under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- If members of your party are drinking, make sure you have a sober water watcher who can monitor the group without distraction.
- Be prepared to call for help in an emergency and know how to perform CPR. If someone on the shore or in the water is in distress, call the lifeguard or dial 911 immediately. If water conditions are unsafe for swimming, do not attempt to rescue other swimmers.
- Wear sunscreen and stay hydrated.