Beach Safety This Summer

Whether you’ve grown up in Florida your whole life or it’s your first time to the Sunshine state, more than likely the first word that comes to mind when you think Summer break is “beach”. Amelia Island is growing more and more popular every year and yet so many of us are fortunate enough to call this place home. There is something about the small-town beach vibes that truly makes this place special! We know by mid-July the beaches will be filled with locals and tourists alike, but one thing to take note of this Summer is beach safety! Not just with rip currents and swimming conditions, but other ways you can enjoy yourself and respect the wildlife. Plus, nothing puts a damper on vacation mode quite like a bad sunburn!

The Florida sun is no joke. ALWAYS wear sunscreen (and of course, we’d recommend finding reef-friendly sunscreen), sunglasses, and a head cover of some sort to protect you from the harmful UV rays and an ultimately painful sunburn. Remember to reapply sunscreen after swimming, especially if you’re making a day of it. In addition to sunscreen, stay hydrated! That means drink water, water and more water! Dehydration is a real threat that can sneak up on you in the hot summer sun.

Rip Currents

Rip currents are powerful, narrow channels of fast-moving water that if caught in, will try and pull a swimmer out past the breakers. Panicked swimmers often try to counter a rip current by trying to swim back to shore—putting themselves at risk of drowning because of fatigue. If caught in a rip current, don’t fight it! Swim parallel to the shore and swim back to land at an angle. This will take you out of the current and danger. If you are unable to reach the shore, draw attention to yourself by waving your arms and yelling for help.

Stay Off Dunes

One of the signature, natural beauties of our beaches are the sand dunes! But one of the most important rules you can follow is to stay out of the dunes. The dunes act as barriers to storms and storm surges, and also provide a home for birds, insects, and small mammals. Natural dunes are irregular in shape and are created as wind-blown sand is deposited along the back of a beach. So it’s best to avoid walking through the dunes, plus there is plenty of space on the beach!

Swimming Buddy

Whenever you’re in the water, always swim with a buddy, even if there is a lifeguard. Strong currents (riptides) make swimming alone in the ocean especially dangerous. Strong waves can also knock you down and keep you submerged for a long time. Always use the buddy system when you’re in the ocean.

Ocean Rescue and Lifeguards

The best way to stay safe while swimming at the beach is to swim near a lifeguard. Lifeguards are trained to spot and rescue struggling swimmers in the water. They’re also trained in lifesaving techniques and first-aid. Choose an area of the beach with a stationed lifeguard. Visit these links for the location of lifeguard stations in the City of Fernandina Beach and Nassau County.

Fill in Holes and Pick up Trash

Digging in the sand is one of the essential summer pleasures, but, when you’re done, please fill them in. Not only because nesting mother turtles and their hatchlings can fall in and become trapped, but other beachgoers can also take a tumble. We’ll give you extra good deed points for filling in holes you come across at the end of the afternoon. And this one is a no brainer, but please always pick up your trash! Leave only your footprints behind.

Know your Flags

Pay special attention to the flags flying from the lifeguard stand. These beach warning flags are universal and will let you know quickly what the surf conditions are like:

Double Red= Water closed to public use

Red= High hazard (high surf and strong current), Swimming is allow but may be limited

Yellow= Caution, Medium Hazard (Moderate Surf and Current)

Green= Safe to Swim (calm conditions)

Purple= Presence of dangerous marine life (jellyfish, sting ray, dangerous fishes).

We hope you get the chance this Summer to relax and enjoy the beaches (no matter how short or long your visit may be)! Florida Summers on the beach tend to be a bit unforgiving, but with these beach safety tips, we hope you can confidently get out there and enjoy yourself! Cheers to sweet, sweet Summer time!