The Margate City Fire Department and Margate City Beach Patrol is advising residents, visitors, and beach patrons about water safety and the dangers of rip currents.

Beach and Water Safety Tips

  • Always swim near a lifeguard
  • Statistics show that your chance of drowning at a beach without a lifeguard is five times greater than a beach with lifeguards
  • Never swim alone
    • Many drownings involve single swimmers. When you swim with a buddy, if one of you has a problem, the other may be able to help.
  • Obey warning signs and flags
    • Learn the meaning of the posted signs and flags. Flag warning systems make beach patrons aware of current water conditions.
  • Obey lifeguards’ orders and instructions
    • Lifeguards are trained professionals. Always obey and follow their orders and instructions.
  • Know how to swim
    • Learning to swim is the best defense against drowning.
  • Don’t dive in headfirst
    • Serious lifelong injuries occur every year due to diving headfirst into unknown water and striking the bottom.
  • Leash your board
    • Surfboards and boogie boards should be used only with a leash.
  • Don’t fight the current
    • If you are caught in a rip current, don’t fight it by trying to swim directly to shore. Instead, swim parallel to shore until you feel the current relax, and then swim to shore.  Most rip currents are narrow and a short swim parallel to shore will bring you to safety.
  • Swim sober
    • Alcohol is a major factor in drowning. Both alcohol and drugs impair good judgment, which may cause people to take risks they would not otherwise take.
  • Don’t float where you can’t swim
    • No one should use a flotation device unless they are able to swim.
  • Life jackets = boating safety
    • Some 80% of fatalities associated with boating accidents are from drowning. Where an approved Coast Guard lifejacket when boating.
  • Always wear sunscreen
    • Sunscreen is used to protect you from the sun, reapply as needed and limit your sun exposure for better protection. Wear loose fitting and lightly colored clothing with a hat and sunglasses.

Rip current safety

  • Learn how to identify rip currents. Look for these clues:
    • A channel of churning, choppy water
    • An area having a notable difference in water color. Slightly brown colored from the sand churning up.
    • A line of foam, seaweed, or debris moving steadily seaward.
    • A break in the incoming wave pattern.
  • Learn how to avoid and survive rip currents
    • Learn how to swim.
  • If caught in a rip current, remain calm to conserve energy and think clearly.
    • Don’t fight the current. Swim out of the current in a direction following the shoreline. When out of the current, swim towards shore.
    • If you are still unable to reach shore, draw attention to yourself. Face the shore, wave your arms, and yell for help.
    • If you see someone in trouble, get help from a lifeguard. If a lifeguard is not available, have someone call 9-1-1 for help.
    • Remember, many people drown while trying to save someone else from a rip current.

And the best advice is always swim near a lifeguard, and never swim in the ocean after regular beach hours.

Categories: Margate

Nanette LoBiondo Galloway

Award winning journalist covering news, events and people of Atlantic County for more than 20 years.