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KHOR Beach Safety and Information Guide


1.  SWIM NEAR A LIFEGUARD

Find out where the lifeguard stands are located and always swim where there is a lifeguard. Statistics show that the chance of drowning at a beach without lifeguard protection is almost 5 times greater than drowning at a beach with lifeguards (United States Lifesaving Association).

2.  NEVER SWIM ALONE

It is best to always enter the water with a “swim buddy”. If one of you has a problem, the other can help or yell for assistance. At the least, have someone on shore watching you.

3.  DON’T FIGHT THE RIP CURRENT

The majority of water rescues performed by Kitty Hawk Ocean Rescue lifeguards involve rip currents. To be safe at the ocean you must understand what a rip current is and how to take care of yourself if caught in one.

                rip1.jpg (115376 bytes)    rip2.jpg (114323 bytes)    rip3.jpg (121533 bytes)

What is a Rip Current?  Often mistakenly called undertows, these powerful currents pull even experienced swimmers away from shore.  Panic and drowning often result.  The currents are formed when water rushes out to sea in a narrow path.   This happens when there is a break in a nearshore sandbar or the current is diverted by a groin, jetty, or other barrier.  Rip currents can exten 1,000 feet offshore, reach 100 feet in width and travel up to 3 mph.  Some are present a few hours; others are permanent.  Rip currents are more prevalent after storms.

Telltale Signs of Rip Currents
A difference in water color - either murkier from sediments or darker from greater depth
A difference in the waves - larger choppier waves in the rip current: smaller, calmer waves in front of the bar
Foam or objects moving steadily seaward
An offshore plume of turbid water past the sandbars.  Polarized sunglasses cut glare and help spot rip currents.

What to Do:
If you're caught in a rip current, don't panic or swim against the current.  Swim parellel to shore until you are out of the current.  Rip currents are rarely more than 30 feet wide.  If you can't break out of the current, float calmly unitl it dissipates, usually just beyond the breakers.  Then swim diagonally to shore.   If you don't swim well, stay in wading depths and watch for sudden drop-offs.

Rip Current Graphics and info provided by Sea Grant.

4.  SWIM SOBER

Drugs, including alcohol, impair judgement and cause people to take risks they would not otherwise take. In addition, drugs contribute to drowning by decreasing muscle coordination resulting in decreased swimming ability.

5.  USE A LEASH ON YOUR BOARD

Leashes are attached to a surfboard or boogie board and then to the user’s ankle or wrist. Use of a leash is important for two reasons -

1.        The user will not become separated from his floatation device, and

2.        The leash reduces the chances of the board hitting and injuring bystanders.

6.  DON’T FLOAT WHERE YOU CANNOT SWIM

Oftentimes non-swimmers go into deep water dependent on a floatation device. This is extremely dangerous. If they fall off, or the raft deflates, they can quickly drown. Kitty Hawk Ocean Rescue ask you to know your limitations, recognize your swimmin ability, and respect the Atlantic Ocean.

7.  PROTECT YOUR NECK - FEET FIRST, EVERY TIME

Serious head and neck injuries occur every year due to diving head first into unfamiliar water and impacting with the bottom. Always enter the water feet first, first time, and always check for the water depth and for obstructions  before diving.

8.  WATCH YOUR CHILDREN IN THE WATER

It only takes 20 – 60 seconds for an actively drowning person to become unconscious. This is an extremely short period of time. The lifeguard is responsible for watching you, your children, and every other person in his zone. Even the best lifeguard can not see everything at once. Help the lifeguard watch your children by being an extra set of eyes.

9.  IF THERE IS THUNDER AND/OR LIGHTNING – LEAVE THE BEACH

Lightning causes thunder, so anytime thunder can be heard, the danger of lightning is real, whether you can see it or not. If at the beach, get out of the water and take shelter. Do not take shelter under a tree or in an open structure. Go to a building or a fully enclosed metal vehicle, such as a car, with the windows shut (Lifesaving Resources Inc.)

10.  KNOW YOUR LOCATION ON THE BEACH BY STREET NUMBER OR CROSS STREET, CARRY A CELULAR PHONE WITH YOU, AND IF YOU SEE SOMEONE IN NEED OF HELP DIAL 911.


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