Beach Safety Tips

General Tips

  • Swim Near A Lifeguard. Swimming near a life guard increases your chances of surviving an emergency. Life guards are there to observe and protect the public at the beach. Look below this page for meanings of beach flag warning signs they fly on their stands.
  • Learn To Swim. Learning to swim is the best defense against drowning. Teach children to swim at an early age. As they get older, if they haven’t learned they may refuse to, simply out of embarrassment. Swimming instruction is a crucial step to protecting children from injury or death.
  • Never Swim Alone. Many drownings involve single swimmers. When you swim with a buddy, if one of you has a problem, the other may be able to help, including signaling for assistance from others. Also make sure to have someone onshore watching, especially if children are in the water.
  • Don’t Fight the Current. Rip currents are formed by surf and gravity, because once surf pushes water up the slope of the beach, gravity pulls it back. This can create concentrated rivers of water moving offshore. Some people mistakenly call this an undertow, but there is no undercurrent, just an offshore current. If you are caught in a rip current, don’t fight it by trying to swim directly to shore. Instead, swim parallel to shore until you feel the current relax, then swim to shore. Most rip currents are narrow and a short swim parallel to shore will bring you to safety. Click the Rip Current picture at the bottom of the page for a downloadable brochure.
  • Swim Sober. Alcohol is a major factor in drowning. Alcohol can reduce body temperature and impair swimming ability. Perhaps more importantly, both alcohol and drugs impair good judgment, which may cause people to take risks they would not otherwise take. Alcohol is also illegal on any beach in North Myrtle at any time.
  • Leash Your Board. Surfboards and body boards should be used only with a leash. Leashes are usually attached to the board and the ankle or wrist. They are available in most shops where surfboards and bodyboards are sold or rented. With a leash, the user will not become separated from the flotation device. One additional consideration is a breakaway leash. A few drownings have been attributed to leashes becoming entangled in underwater obstructions. A breakaway leash avoids this problem.
  • Don’t Float Where You Can’t Swim. Non-swimmers often use flotation devices, like inflatable rafts, to go offshore. If they fall off, they can quickly drown. No one should use a flotation device unless they are able to swim.
  • Life Jackets = Boating Safety. Some 80% of fatalities associated with boating accidents are from drowning. Most involve people who never expected to end up in the water, but fell overboard or ended up in the water when the boat sank. Children are particularly susceptible to this problem and in many states, children are required to be in life jackets whenever they are aboard boats.