Staying Safe While Swimming in the Ocean

Posted: August 2, 2022 4:57 pm

Water safety when swimming in the ocean includes your behavior in and around the water. Sure, people go swimming to have fun and relax, but relaxing too much poses severe threats to your health. Oceans have dangers that surpass the bounds of pool safety, and these risks can be reduced with the proper attitude.

Before taking your kids to the ocean, you should cover the risks of horseplay, ignoring the rules and other reckless behaviors. Point out the unique risks of swimming in the ocean like jellyfish and other stinging types of sea life. Discuss the dangers of heat and sunburn, rip currents and shore breaks.

Rip Currents and Other Unique Ocean Threats

Rip currents are channeled streams of water that flow away from the shore of surfing beaches. These currents might extend from close to shore past the line of breaking waves in the surf zone. Their width ranges from 10 feet to 100 feet or more.

Ordinarily, the currents are too slow to be considered dangerous, but they can quickly build speeds up to five miles or more per hour. That’s not as fast as people can run, but it’s faster than all but the best swimmers can maintain. If caught in a rip current, you could be channeled far from land and wind up alone and unprotected in the vast ocean.

Shore breaks rank as dangerous and unpredictable ocean conditions when the waves break against the shore. The powerful energy can knock swimmers off their feet or drive them against unyielding rocks, coral or hard sand. Swimmers often suffer severe head or spinal injuries or broken limbs.

Shore breaks can be even more dangerous in Hawaii even when surfing height is relatively short. Wave heights of three feet or more commonly cause most spinal, neck and head injuries.

Most Common Ocean Safety Recommendations

Basic ocean safety tips include the following recommendations:

  • Always Swim with a Buddy
    You should only swim in the ocean where there’s a lifeguard. Lifeguards don’t just rescue swimmers in trouble; they watch the water for possible threats like sharks, which are rare, and other related safety issues. Lifeguards are trained to respond quickly in emergency situations with a knowledge of resuscitation techniques.

    Even if there is a trained lifeguard on duty, their attention is often split among the many people swimming. That’s why it’s safest to swim with a buddy who watches out specifically for you and vice versa. Swimming alone in the ocean is just too dangerous.
  • Don’t Play Games with Daredevil Stunts
    Playing games, like seeing who can hold their breath the longest underwater, risks drowning or other injuries. Holding your breath too long or hyperventilating before attempting to hold your breath for a prolonged time can result in you passing out or becoming dizzy or disoriented.
  • Wear a Lifejacket or Other Flotation Device
    Swimming in the ocean without a lifejacket or flotation device qualifies as risky behavior that has no potential upside. Use a Coast Guard-certified jacket for your children instead of questionable devices like water wings, pool noodles, etc. Substitutes for certified life preservers just don’t do the job as effectively.

    Using a life jacket doesn’t exempt you from following other safety guidelines. The jackets alone won’t keep you 100% safe. You must follow safety rules and use the jacket as backup protection.
  • Supervise Children at the Beach
    When your children get in the water, it’s important to watch them carefully even if they’re just wading in the surf. It’s important to maintain vigilance even if they’re sunning on the beach. Kids can suddenly dive into the water on a dare or whim.

    Even children who are strong swimmers should be carefully monitored because the better swimmers are more likely to try tricks, flips and risky dives. The safest course is to turn your phone off while supervising kids. A minute’s distraction is all it takes for a child to get endangered.
  • Enter Water Feet First
    Entering unfamiliar water is dangerous for diving. Even favored swimming spots can change because of the dynamic influence of the ocean. Entering water feet first is the safest method of entering the water.
  • Don’t Try to Save a Friend
    Many people drown to save a friend when they don’t have the knowledge or skill to save someone. Children should be taught to try saving a person by extending a long object like an oar or paddle. Drawing the lifeguard’s attention also works.
  • Learn CPR
    Despite following the rules and guidelines, swimming accidents still happen. After a drowning incident, bystanders often occupy the best position to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation. They’re often not out of breath from rescuing the victim.

    As a concerned parent, learning CPR comes highly recommended. It might make the difference between life and death of a fellow swimmer, friend or relative.
  • Swim in Designated Areas Only
    Staying within the designated areas for swimming is important because there might be deeper water than expected, undertows, rip currents, shore breaks or undefined dangers in other areas. Follow the guidelines established by local lifeguards because they banned certain areas for sound reasons.
  • Avoid Drugs, Alcohol and Debilitating Medications
    Older children and parents should avoid alcohol, drugs and strong medications when swimming in the ocean. Oceans can provide exceptional experiences, but they’re designed for healthy, sober people. You shouldn’t even drink when supervising children because it slows reaction times and dampens any swimming abilities you have.

Teach Kids About Ocean Safety


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It’s important to stress safety and practice what you preach because kids quickly spot hypocrisy. If you follow the rules, they’ll likely do the same after a suitable period of grumbling. Point out the dangers of deep or murky water, and they’ll remember those lessons when they encounter risky water later in life.

Our App Provides Safety Tips

Our app provides safety tips about many subjects that can keep your family healthy, safe and knowledgeable about the levels of risk in common everyday actions.

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