Because, hey, if life’s a beach…might as well make it a safe beach. National Beach Safety Week is here, and none too soon. There was already one tragic drowning fatality on Sullivan’s Island over Memorial Day weekend.
Here in the Lowcountry, we are fortunate to have access to so many beaches—all beautiful and inviting, but each with its distinct personality. Regardless of whether you prefer Folly’s quirkiness or Kiawah’s serenity or the family-friendliness of the Isle of Palms, all of our beaches have one thing in common: they can be dangerous.
To help ensure your day at the beach is more fun than foible, be mindful of these safety tips, complements of Justin Caldwell, the lifeguard supervisor for Charleston County Parks and Recreation Commission (CCPRC), which staffs all the lifeguard stations on our public beaches. Justin, who also just happens to have been the spring intern with the RSF Corporate Communications department, has seen plenty of risky, unsafe behavior during his six years as a First Responder and lifeguard, says that most people get into trouble because they overestimate their abilities and/or underestimate the conditions.
His advice: don’t be one of them! Instead, follow his top five tips for summer beach safety.
- Never turn your back on the ocean. The ocean is a powerful, constantly changing and often unpredictable. No matter how strong of a swimmer you are, always be aware of your surroundings and keep an eye on a point of reference on the shore (such as an umbrella or a lifeguard) to help you understand how the ocean is moving you.
- Don’t swim alone. Not only is swimming alone boring, it is also dangerous. Always go to the beach with a group of friends so you can have each other’s backs if things don’t go as planned. 3. Bring/apply and reapply plenty of sunscreen. Hats and sunglasses help keep you cool while also protecting your skin. Drink plenty of water (not alcohol, which is illegal on our beaches) and bring a shirt to slip on when you need a break from the sun. Be conscious of heat exhaustion (symptoms may include: confusion, dizziness, faintness, nausea, rapid heartbeat or profuse sweating). If you or a friend has gotten too much sun and possibly suffers from heat exhaustion, get out of the sun, lay down in the shade and call a lifeguard.
- Remember that lifeguards are your friends. The lifeguards at Charleston County Parks are highly trained and highly certified and are always ready to help. If you have a question or concern, find a red and yellow lifeguard to ask. Every beach or waterpark is staffed by prepared lifeguards and first responders who are there to ensure that each patron has a fun, safe time.
- And have fun!
Justin Caldwell is a rising senior at the College of Charleston senior, majoring in Communications. He was an intern with the RSF Corporate Communications department this spring. He is a certified First Responder and has been a lifeguard with Charleston County Parks and Recreation since 2009. He is currently serving as Lifeguard Supervisor.