Beach & Ocean Safety Tips
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Before entering the water, check in with a Lifeguard for the most current ocean conditions and safety information for that area.
The following Beach and Ocean Safety Tips will help bathers and beachgoers stay safe while visiting the beach.
- Learn to Swim
- Swim with a Buddy & Near a Lifeguard
- Check in with Lifeguards Before Going Into the Water
- Missing Persons
- Use Sunscreen & Stay Hydrated
- Obey All Posted Signs & Flags
- Learn Rip Current Safety
- Wear a Life Jacket
- Jellyfish & Man-O-War
- Dangerous Weather Conditions
Learning to swim is the best defense against drowning.
Never enter the water if you do not know how to swim or are not a strong ocean swimmer.
If you are not a strong ocean swimmer, take swim lessons. It is never too late to learn how to swim!
When going into the water, never swim alone. If you experience an emergency while in the water, you have someone right there next to you who may be able to help, including signaling for assistance from others.
If at the beach with kids, always designate a water watch onshore to maximize kids' safety.
The chance of drowning at a beach without lifeguard protection is almost five times as greater as drowning at a beach with lifeguards. If you arrive at the beach and don't see a lifeguard on-duty, call the Lifeguard Station at 904-270-1685 to find out where the closest on-duty Lifeguard is.
For more information on swimming and surfing safety, visit the Hoag website.
Lifeguards work continuously to identify hazards that might affect you, at any time. They can advise you on the safest place to swim, as well as places to avoid.
Talk with the Lifeguard when you first arrive at the beach for the best advice on bathing and swimming at the beach.
Kids Wander, Always Actively Supervise Children at the Beach
There are a lot of people at the beach, and the constantly changing crowds can be overwhelming. Children require constant supervision to avoid being separated. Take note of these lifeguard recommendations to prevent you from being separated from your children:
Teach Children to Go to the Nearest Lifeguard if They Are Lost
Teach kids that lifeguards are "safe strangers" who are there to help in case something goes wrong. Make sure that children are able to give the lifeguard their name, the name of a parent and ideally, a phone number if they are lost.
Report to the Nearest Lifeguard if a Member of Your Group Goes Missing
Lifeguards are accustomed to helping reunite lost family members at the beach. The lifeguard towers and trucks are connected by phones and radios, and will be able to help you search much faster.
Memorize what the children are wearing and keep recent photos of children in case they become separated. An easy way to do this is by taking a family photo with your cell phone at the start of your visit to the beach.
Select a Landmark to Serve as a Meeting Point if Anyone Gets Separated
Typically, a good landmark will be the nearest lifeguard tower.
If you can not find a lifeguard to report a missing person, call 911 immediately!
To protect yourself form the harmful sun rays, always choose sunscreen rated at least 15 SPF and/or clothing that covers your skin. Reapplying sunscreen regularly throughout the day is a must!
The sun can also dehydrate you quickly. Drink lots of water and avoid alcohol and carbonated beverages which contributed to dehydration.
Lifeguards treat bathers and beachgoers for heat exhaustion and heat stroke from time to time. If you feel ill, be sure to contact a Lifeguard immediately. If you don't see a Lifeguard, call 911.
For more information on sun safety, go to the Hoag website.
Lifeguards have signs and warning flags throughout Jacksonville Beach.
Bathers and beachgoers should heed to all posted signs and flags throughout the beach.
Beach Warning Flags may be flown by beach accesses or on the beach in specific locations to advise of current ocean condition hazards that change from time to time.
For more information or clarification on any posted warning sign or flags, ask the Lifeguard or call the Lifeguard Station at 904-270-1685.
According to the United States Lifesaving Association, about 80% of rescues at ocean beaches are due to rip currents.
Rip currents are formed by surf and gravity due to the surf pushing water up the slop of the beach, gravity pulls it back.
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, then swim in to shore. Most rip currents are narrow and a short swim parallel to shore will bring you to safety.
For more rip current safety information, visit the Hoag website.
Take a quick Marine Hazards and Rip Current Safety Course from our WeatherSTEM partner.
Majority of fatalities associated with boating accidents are from drowning.
Always wear a life jacket with in a boat or kayak. For people using a stand up paddle board (SUP) past the surfline should also consider wearing a life jacket.
Jellyfish stings are generally very uncomfortable, but not life-threatening. In the event of being stung by a jellyfish, seek a Lifeguard's assistance. If a Lifeguard is not around and there is a life-threatening situation, call 911.
A man-of-war is turquoise in color with long tentacles. Sometimes looking like a balloon floating on the top of the water. If you see a man-o-war while in the ocean, Lifeguards advise to stay away. Their sting can be very dangerous. In severe cases, life-threatening signs and symptoms can be present such as paralysis or shock. Always seek Lifeguard's assistance if stung by a man-o-war. If a Lifeguard is not around and there is a life-threatening situation, call 911.
Ocean Rescue Lifeguards continuously monitor weather conditions through a partnership with the National Weather Service, Jacksonville Office, and using the real-time WeatherSTEM Weather Station in Jacksonville Beach.
In the event of dangerous weather conditions, Lifeguards will leave the beach for their safety.
All bathers and beachgoers should exit the water, leave the beach, and seek shelter immediately when a storm is approaching the area.