Beach Safety And Drowning Prevention Tips



Here we look at various ways to stay safe at the beach this year.  Use the table of contents below to navigate to where you want to read more!

Table of Contents:

  • [ps2id url=’#1′ offset=” class=”]Water Accidents Statistics[/ps2id]
  • [ps2id url=’#2′ offset=” class=”]9 Beach Safety Rules for All[/ps2id]
  • [ps2id url=’#3′ offset=” class=”]Drowning Prevention Tips for Infants and Young Children[/ps2id]
  • [ps2id url=’#4′ offset=” class=”]Common Beach Emergencies And How To Handle Them[/ps2id]
  • [ps2id url=’#5′ offset=” class=”]The Lifeguard, by Gustave Kobbé[/ps2id]
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Let’s get to it!

Water Accidents Statistics

Yes, the water is there for your enjoyment, but if you want to make sure that all your beach days have happy endings. You’d better play according to its rules. 

water safety and drowning prevention tips

Water accidents are unpleasant to think about, but they do happen. Did you know that about 372 000 people died worldwide in 2012 in the water? That’s a huge number!

Did you also know that over half of the victims didn’t expect to be in the water? 

Even if you don’t plan to take the plunge, peruse these pointers. Most rely on good old common sense, so remember to pack that, along with your bathing suit. 

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For more information, pick up one of the several books on this subject that are published by the American Red Cross.

10 Beach Safety Rules for All

Read over these helpful beach safety tips and stay safe when you’re having fun at the beach! 

These are in no particular order, but they’re all very important points to go over.

#1 – Never go in the water alone

don't go in the water alone

Never go in the water when you’re alone. There should be at least one other swimmer nearby at all times, preferably a qualified lifeguard.

#2 – Learn To Tread Water

Learn and teach your beach companions how to swim or tread water.

At least learn “drown-proofing” or “survival floating” techniques that even non-swimmers can learn, and that enable you to stay afloat for long periods of time, while using very little energy.

Treading water is definitely an essential skill before jumping in a pool or lake.

#3 – Enter Unfamiliar Water Cautiously

Check the depth of any pool of water before diving in, be it an actual pool or a lake, or what have you..

Enter unfamiliar water cautiously, feet first, looking for rocks, holes, and strong currents.

Lifeguards can advise you of these conditions, and answer your questions about jellyfish and sandbars, too. 

Stay clear of jetties, pier pilings, and so on – and be aware of any currents that may cause you to drift.

Ask about undercurrents and rip tides as well. They are dangerous.

Watch this video, which is about fishing, but it provides information on how to gauge how deep certain waters are.  Worth a watch!

Very interesting stuff, eh?

#4 – Read and Obey Official Signs


Obey posted rules and regulations. They’re put there for your benefit, not to ruin your fun.

#5 – Don’t overestimate your ability

A common mistake of weekend swimmers and at the start of a vacation or swimming season, is to think that you are a great swimmer.  

You might be in your backyard pool at home, but get to know new waters, and even then, don’t take unnecessary risks.

Watch this clip illustrating that studies show people can’t swim as well as they think, and what skills many of us lack when we need our swimming skills the most.

#6 – Keep an eye on the kids

Keep a constant eye on children. The very young should wear flotation jackets at all times. Rip currents are especially dangerous. 

Watch this video about keeping your child safe from rip currents / tides.

#7 – Don’t eat and then immediately go swimming

There’s no real evidence that a heavy meal causes lethal cramps that will cause you to drown, but you could be very uncomfortable swimming strenuously if your stomach is busy digesting food.

eating while swimming

Light meals are fine before a swim. Soon after you eat, your brain sends a lot of your blood to your digestive organs to digest your food.  

Like jogging, eating and swimming does cause cramps, and you don’t want to be thinking about cramps while swimming. Just be careful.

Here’s a video by the Mayo Clinic talking more about this.

#8 – Avoid Drugs and Alcohol

Nearly half of all drowning victims have significant levels of drugs in their systems, so avoid alcohol or other drugs near the water.

Here is an example of a state you do not want to be in while swimming in a pool.

#9 – Swim in well lit areas

No midnight dips unless the area is properly lighted and / or a buddy or lifeguard is around.

The following video of dark water swimming may look fun, but it’s not something you’ll want to be doing without supervision.

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Now, let’s look at some drowning prevention tips for our young children.

Drowning Prevention Tips for Infants and Young Children

The following video may seem strange at first, but wait for the ending. 

It shows how a toddler can stay calm and float in a pool until rescued, in case they fall in.  This is training that could save a child’s life.

Thank goodness the ending is ultimately a happy one, because this baby has learned the swim-float-swim technique taught in programs like Infant Aquatics, located in Texas. 

Another infant swimming program, actually called Swim-Float-Swim, is available in the U.S.  These programs are definitely worth looking into.

It’s a scary thing to see a baby in the water, but if we teach our children early on in life, to be comfortable in the water and not panic, then there will be a far less chance that our children will run into problems.   

They will have a important skills to help them out.  

In the following videos, young children demonstrate the use of this technique and how it can be a real life-saver at the beach or elsewhere.

These days, there are some great options for life jackets when it comes to your infant or toddler.

Swimways Baby Spring Float Activity Center with Canopy

Of course, water safety is just as crucial, if not more so with our youngsters, since they are more helpless than us adults.  

We do not want to deny our children the experience of playing and bobbing with us in the water, or playing with water toys. 

bobbing in pool with child

That said, we want to make sure we have the best water safety equipment for our kids when we head to the beach.

By the way, most experts frown upon teaching under-four-year-olds to swim because they lack the muscular control to lift their heads out of the water to inhale. 

This is why the above videos we shared teach a swim-float-swim method, as it is a recent method that seems to be having good results. 

If a toddler somehow ends up in the water (pool, lake, or ocean – even the tub), they can gain a few crucial drowning prevention skills that could save their life. 

beach baby swimming in water

Teaching your baby to swim isn’t a bad idea, but we as parents always must be cautious.

Infants are also quite susceptible to infections that can be spread in pool water.

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They can, however, be taught to enjoy the water and thus be better prepared to learn how to swim when the time comes.

Common Beach Emergencies And How To Handle Them

Videos as visual aids to these tips will be found below.

female lifeguard ww2
Female Lifeguard in World War II
  1. In all emergencies, keep cool so you can think clearly. Save your panic for later, when it’s all over.
  2. Never attempt a swimming rescue by yourself. Even those trained in lifesaving make solo rescue attempts only as a last resort. If you’re well-intentioned but inexperienced, the danger of a double drowning increases. Anyone, even non-swimmers, can save a life by extending a pole, branch, rope, board, towel, or article of clothing for the victim to grab.  As you pull someone into safety, stay low to the ground, so you don’t get pulled in, also.  If the person is too far away for that technique, toss anything that floats, such as a wooden board, life preserver, a kick board, or a life jacket for support, until help comes.
    In case of a submerging, seconds count. Once the victim is out of the water, check his or her breathing and pulse and begin to perform CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) immediately. If necessary, take a CPR course at the Red Cross or YMCA in your community. Make sure you update the CPR every year as well, since new ideas on how to perform CPR are available.
  3. A muscle cramp gets you into trouble usually because you panic and become exhausted, not because it restricts your movement. You can often prevent a full-scale cramp by heeding the warning twinge that precedes it. Stretch the muscle and knead it with your thumb until it eases up.
    If you should become caught in the neck of a rip tide (a long, narrow, seaward-moving streak of water; also known as a sea puss or rip current), don’t attempt to swim directly back to shore.  Instead, swim parallel to the shore (and thus, perpendicular to and out of the rip), or let the rip carry you out past the breaking waves. Once you’re free of the current you can swim back to shore.)
  4. If you get caught in a river current, swim diagonally across. You’ll end up farther downstream, but on dry land.
  5. If you should become entangled in a pocket of weeds, extricate yourself by swimming slowly in the same direction as the stems flow.
  6. If you’re in a boating accident or some other mishap that leaves you far from shore or if you become tired or winded or experience a muscle cramp do “survival floating”. To begin, take a deep breath, then lower your face into the water and relax your body as much as possible as you assume a vertical floating position. When you need more air, exhale through your nose and mouth as you press your arms downward or bring your legs together and raise your head.  Inhale, then go limp again into the face down floating position. Continue until help comes or the cramp subsides.

As video above emphasizes, “reach or throw” is the best course of action to take if you see someone drowning.

You don’t want to jump in after them, or you too could be a victim. As valiant as it would seem to go into the water, please don’t if you can help it.

As the video shows, the smart thing to do is to look for something nearby – a stick, a flotation device, or a wet towel are a few options when it comes to what you can use to extend to the drowning victim. 

If there is a lifeguard nearby, tell them immediately rather than trying to deal with the situation yourself. 

You might lose a few precious seconds getting their attention, but this is overall the best course of action since they are equipped to deal with a drowning whereas you may not be.

In the above video, which talks about achieving natural buoyancy, we see how it is more difficult for adults than children to achieve natural buoyancy. 

Adults are simply heavier and denser, and so its easier for them to sink (unless they are in the Dead Sea, where everyone floats). 

Examining your own natural buoyancy can be extremely helpful in water safety, because once we understand how we are able to float, it will help us safe in potentially dangerous situations, like being caught in a riptide. 

Relaxation is key to drowning prevention, as well as natural buoyancy, as is muscle control. 

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We recommend practicing these techniques in a controlled environment at first, before you head out for a swim anywhere far from shore.

The Lifeguard, by Gustave Kobbé

(from a 19th century newspaper)

water safety beach drowning prevention tips

One of the chief charms to me about a life-saver is the fact of his usually being utterly unconscious that he is a hero. 

If you ask him why he is in the service, he will probably tell you that he has lived all his life along the shore, fishes in the summer, and finds life-saving the best means of making a living in winter. 

Heroism indeed! – you will say – when the chief attraction of his calling to him seems the regularity with which pay day comes along.

But there are some occupations which are in themselves heroic.  

You can’t mention a calling which involves shoving a boat’s nose into salt-water, that hasn’t a touch of romanticism, and generally of the heroism.  

There is something heroic even about the boat itself. How small, how frail it seems, compared with each successive breaker that curves and burst into a cataract as it nears shore.  

Yet life-savers launch it fearlessly upon the vast contumescence of wind and sea.  Now it rises seemingly upon a mountain, now it plunges into an abyss. 

The watchers ashore hold their breath. Will it ever reappear? 

Yes, there it rises upon the succeeding breaker, kept head on to the sea only by the desperate strength of the crew.  Will it be pitch-poled, or thrown on its beam-ends?  

Will that breaker, whose white crest, curves almost over it, burst and fill it?  Somehow it seems to live – live and move with the strength of its heroic crew.

About the author: Garth loves camping under the stars with his Arb III, scuba diving, snorkeling, and also tanning. His favourite snorkel spots include Alanya (Turkey), Koh Rong (Cambodia), and Maui (Hawaii, USA). He also loves to visit the cenotes in Mexico and he recommends everyone reads the book, “The Soul of an Octopus”, because, he says “they are sensitive, just like me”.