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Beaches, Swimming, and Boating Hazards

Water recreation is a great way to cool off, but pools, rivers, lakes, and beaches present unique hazards.  Florida ranks second in the nation for drowning deaths in children under five years of age and fifth in the country for drowning deaths among all ages.  85% of all boating-related drowning victims were not wearing a life jacket.  Drowning is fast, it is silent, and it can happen to anyone.  Water safety is everyone's responsibility

Residents and visitors enjoying Florida beaches should know the risks and be prepared for excessive heat and strong UV rays, lightning, water spouts, high surf and rip currents, as well as dangerous vertebrate and invertebrate marine life.  

Plan your summer beach trip with these 10 Beach Safety Tips​ in mind.  You can text BCHSAFE to 888777 to get daily updates on the surf conditions at Fernandina Beach and Click HERE to see conditions at each beach access point.

Graphic heading says Prepare Now surrounded by Blue Circle

Before

Graphic heading says Survive During the Hazard surrounded by Orange Circle

During

Graphic heading says Be Safe After the Hazard surrounded by Green Circle

After

  • Use dune walkovers to protect yourself, the beach, and wildlife.

  • Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.

  • Take steps toward sun safety.  Water and sand reflect the damaging rays of the sun, which can increase your chance of sunburn.

  • Wear sunglasses and use sunscreen.  Beach breezes and getting wet will cool the skin, which can keep you from realizing you're getting sunburned.  Re-apply sunscreen frequently to protect from harmful UV rays.

  • Read and obey posted Beach Signs and Flags.  Not all beaches have flags posted - the absence of flags does not indicate safe waters.

  • Watch wildlife from a distance for your safety and theirs.  When in the water, shuffle your feet to scare off rays and crabs.

  • If you enter the water, stay within sight of lifeguards and keep an eye out for Rip Currents.

  • Designate a "water watcher" to keep on eye on people in the water.

  • Watch for changes in the weather, which can happen suddenly.  

  • Leave no trace.  Fill up any holes, pick up all of your supplies, and take all of your trash with you when you leave.

  • Drink extra water for a day to replace fluids lost to the sun, swimming, and sea breeze.

  • Symptoms of sunburn don't appear for 3-5 hours after exposure.  Sunburn first aid doesn't heal your skin, but it can ease pain, swelling, and discomfort. 

  • Watch for signs of respiratory distress (i.e. trouble breathing, coughing, chest pain, lethargy, lips turning blue) in children or pets that may have aspirated (inhaled water) during the day.  

  • Several species of protected sea turtles nest on Amelia Island.  Don't use flashlights on the beach at night and keep "Lights Out" to prevent their disorientation.  

Graphic of colored flags used for warnings of beach hazards and their meanings.  Double Red is water closed to the public, Red is high risk of dangerous surf or rip currents, Yellow is medium risk of dangerous surf or rip currents, Green is low risk and calm conditions, Purple is dangerous marine life present.
Anatomy-RipCurrent.jpg
National Weather Service Graphic indicating typical hazards at the beach, including Rip Currents, Dangerous Waves, Excessive Heat, and Lightning

Know How to Recognize and Escape Rip Currents

National Weather Service Graphic illustrating Rip Currents and what to do if caught in rip currents, don't panic, float, swim parallel to the shore to get out

Designate a Water Watcher, and Learn CPR

Designate a Water Watcher
Graphic illustrating the signs of drowning at the beach are silent and happen swiftly; facing shore, mouth at water-level, head tilted back, vertical body, motion like climbing a ladder.  Designate an adult water watcher.  Swim near a lifeguard, wear a life jacket.
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