There’s a reason they say life’s better at the beach. It’s the combination of sand in your shoes and salt in the air. It makes jokes seem funnier, food taste better and life seem more special!
But along with all the wonders of spending time at the beach comes the responsibility of being so close to very powerful natural forces. The ocean has to be respected for the sake of safety. Fortunately, by following a few precautions and practicing common sense, the beach can be incredibly safe—the millions of visitors to the Grand Strand can attest to that.
Here are five simple rules to follow to help assure a safe and fun trip to Myrtle Beach:
1. Be aware of rip currents
Rip currents, are powerful channels of water that pull out away from shore as fast as eight feet per second— which is “faster than an Olympic swimmer,” according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
If you’re not sure what rip currents look like and how to avoid them, ask a lifeguard. They’re located all along our beaches all summer long. And if you do find yourself caught in a rip current, do not try to fight it, just swim out of the current, which means swim parallel to the shore, not toward it—remember, the rip currents are fairly narrow. Once you’re out of the current, then you can swim to shore. If you can’t escape the current, just float or tread water.
2. Swim sober
We know that many vacationers like to enjoy some drinks while they’re on vacation in Myrtle Beach, but it’s unwise to mix drinking and swimming. Many people are shocked to discover that 25 to 50 percent of all drowning fatalities are alcohol related. We’d call that statistic sobering.
3. Swim in areas with a lifeguard
Speaking of lifeguards: It’s always a good idea to seek them out and swim near them. Of course, just because you’re near a lifeguard does not mean that you are free to nap while your children swim. Keep an eye on your kids and stay nearby.
Watch the beach safety flags, as well, and know what they mean: yellow means there is a lifeguard on duty; blue means there is an aquatic danger; and red means no swimming allowed.
4. Be aware of drowning signs: It DOESN’T look like drowning!
What you’ve seen on TV when someone drowns is not a good indication of what actually happens when someone is in distress in water. And the drowning response is often easy to miss. Almost without exception, people who are drowning do not call out or wave for help, they tend to remain upright and struggle on the surface of water, pressing their arms laterally down on the surface of the water. Their mouths tend to be at water level, a child’s head may fall forward, or the head may tilt back. If you think someone may be drowning, ask “are you all right?” If they can answer, they are probably fine. If they don’t answer, get to them immediately, because they may be drowning, and you may not have much time.