Beach safety a hot topic for summer

31 May 2006 | Lance Cpl. Brandon R. Holgersen

The weather is getting warmer and people are going to the beach to get some sunshine and cool off in the water, but there are safety precautions that everyone should follow to make sure they have a safe and fun summer.

“We want everyone to have fun on the beach but part of being able to have fun is to know what you can do to stay safe,” said Staff Sgt. Jose Maldonado, the staff noncommissioned officer of Onslow Beach.

One of the first safety procedures people should follow is one of the same things that keep Marines safe while on liberty, which is the buddy system, according to Sgt. Michael B. Story, the noncommissioned officer in charge of Onslow Beach.

“You need a buddy when you are swimming,” Story said. “If you don’t have a buddy who can get a lifeguard when you are in trouble you could be on your own in the ocean.”

Another danger on the beach is a rip current. Rip currents are located in the gap between breaking waves where water gets sucked back out to sea. They have a noticeable difference in water color and can be seen by the sea foam being swept out to sea.

If caught in a rip current, don’t panic. Swim parallel to the shore until clear of the current. If you can’t break free of the rip current, let it take you out beyond the breakers then swim diagonally toward the shore. Never swim against the current, according to Story.

It is important to be careful with alcohol and the beach. Glass containers are also prohibited, while on the beach, according to Story

“Alcohol and swimming are never a good mix especially when the sun is beating down on people and they are swimming and drinking. People are just incapable of making any good decisions,” said Story.

Onslow Beach is equipped with a flag system in place to warn swimmers of the sea condition and tell them whether or not it is safe to swim. There are four colors: green, yellow, red and black, according to Story.

Green means it is safe to swim, yellow means keep a look out for bad weather, red means get out of the water and black means no one should be on the beach because there is destructive weather, according to Story.

The beach can be dangerous so it is important to learn and remember these safety precautions to have a fun and enjoyable summer, according to Story.