Know the basics
- Never go into the ocean if you can't swim! Strong swimming skills are essential in the ocean's unpredictable environment.
Heading to the beach for the holidays? Here are some important swimming safety tips to keep in mind!
- Always swim in a designated swimming area supervised by lifeguards and stay close to the shore so you can be seen and rescued quickly if need be.
- Daytime is the safest time to swim in the sea. Visibility is low in the early morning hours and at dusk, and predatory animals tend to move closer to the shore at night.
Know the risks
The ocean is a complex body of water with some natural dangers. Before swimming away from the shore, understand these hazards:
- Rip currents are narrow channels of fast-moving water. Instead of fighting them, swim parallel to the shore with the current, and angle yourself slowly back to land.
- Large waves are more powerful than you might think. Dive under one before it breaks. And remember, never turn your back to the ocean when you're in the water. Rogue waves or undertow can happen at a moment's notice.
- Shore breaks happen when a wave breaks on land, which can knock swimmers down. To avoid serious injury, stay away from beaches with rocky outcroppings or a steep slope into the water.
- Inshore holes are long trenches that run parallel to the beach. They can surprise waders who are expecting shallow water. Make sure your children can swim, and stay with them in any water.
- Always check your local surf forecast before heading to the beach to know what to expect.
Festive season stats from the NSRI (National Sea Rescue Institute)
Over the 2016/17 festive season, there were 25 fatal drownings – 20 adults and 5 children (under 18). Fifteen of the fatalities were in rip currents! NSRI rescued a total of 315 people during 172 rescue operations. Twenty-two of these people had been caught in rip currents. The busiest days for NSRI volunteer crews were 28 December with 11 rescues, and 1 January with 20 rescues.