Beach Safety: It’s No Joke
Every day grows warmer and the waves get more and more inviting. It’s just about time to dive into summer, but before you do that, take a few minutes to acquaint yourself with some basic beach safety tips and tricks.
April has been designated Beach Safety and Rip Current Awareness Month by the Texas legislature, so now is the perfect time to brush up on the best ways to keep you and your family safe in the surf during your next trip to Port Aransas! Below is a roundup of helpful hints from Port Aransas Surf Rescue and the United States Lifesaving Association (USLA).
Swim Near a Lifeguard
According to the United States Lifesaving Association, the “odds of a swimmer fatally drowning at a beach protected by USLA affiliated lifeguards is 1 in 18 million (.0000055%).” Those are odds worth betting on—swim near a lifeguard! Lifeguards in Port Aransas oversee the area of the beach from Markers D through 9, and you can find surf rescue towers at Markers E, F, 0, 6, and 9. Port Aransas Surf Rescue maintains watch daily during spring break and between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Watches are Thursday through Sunday from Labor Day to Halloween and from spring break to Memorial Day. Guards provide watch from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Learn Rip Current Safety
Rip currents are one of the biggest beach hazards. Rip currents “typically form at breaks in sandbars and near structures such as piers and rock groins.”
Here’s what to do if you get caught in a rip current, according to the USLA:
Relax, rip currents don't pull you under
Don’t swim against the current
You may be able to escape by swimming out of the current in a direction following the shoreline, or toward breaking waves, then at an angle toward the beach
Alternatively, you may be able to escape by floating or treading water if the current circulates back toward shore
If you feel you will be unable to reach shore, draw attention to yourself
If you need help, yell and wave for assistance
If you see someone caught in a rip current, do NOT try to rescue them yourself. Instead, go for a lifeguard or, if no guard is present, call 911.
Never Swim Alone...and Keep an Eye on Your Kids
Swimming with a buddy helps ensure that in case you are caught in a rip current or find yourself in an emergency situation, your buddy can go for help. This especially applies to children, who should always be within an arm’s reach of an adult. Be sure to take a photo of your child in the clothes they will be wearing on the beach to help lifeguards and law enforcement identify them in case of an emergency.
Alcohol and Water Don’t Mix
Everybody loves to enjoy their favorite beverage while sunbathing on the warm sand, but if you plan to swim, it’s best not to partake. The effects of alcohol are enhanced by sun exposure and heat, so if swimming is on the agenda, drinking alcohol shouldn’t be.
Observe Signs and Flags
Did you know that Port Aransas employs a beach flag warning system to help beachgoers be aware of daily surf conditions? The flags are posted at strategic points on the beach and shared on the Port Aransas Surf Rescue Facebook page so you can know before you go.
The meanings of each flag color can be seen below, but remember to never let your guard down—even a green flag doesn’t guarantee safety or the absence of rip currents.
Be Cautious of Wildlife
The beach is a natural environment that plenty of native creatures call home. That includes venomous wildlife like jellyfish and Portugeuse Man ‘O Wars. If you are stung by one of these creatures, rinse the area with vinegar and use tweezers to pluck any tentacles still on the skin. If you show signs of an allergic reaction, immediately call 911.
Always practice the “Stingray Shuffle,” a method of walking in the surf by shuffling your feet along the sand to alert any stingrays to your presence and allow them to get out of the way before you have a not-so-pleasant ending to your beach day.
If you see other creatures on the beach or in the water, like dolphins, coyotes, or sea turtles, remember it’s always best to give them a wide berth and not interact. If you spot a sea turtle anywhere on the beach, call 1-866-TURTLE-5 (1-866-887-8535). Local services will be alerted and head out to help as soon as possible.