Safety when ocean swimming

Ocean Swimming

Swimming in the sea/ocean can be lots of fun, you might see some beautiful fish or dolphins jumping the waves in the distance, but it is also very important to learn how to stay safe in the sea/ocean. There are more dangers when swimming in the ocean in comparison to when you go swimming in a swimming pool.

When you reach the beach normally there will be coloured flags flying or notices about the conditions of the ocean, it is always important to check the conditions before entering the ocean.

Find out about some of the dangers you need to be aware of when swimming in the ocean below.

Waves

While jumping waves can be great fun in the ocean, you must learn how to stay safe in ocean waves.
Waves can knock you down or push you to the ocean floor, so it is important to always be careful when playing in the waves, know your limits, and never swim into bigger waves, even the smallest of waves can drag you to the ocean floor. When the sea/ocean starts to get too rough, you should always get out and wait for the ocean to calm. When playing in the waves, you should also always stay close to an adult or always remain where an adult can see you clearly.
When playing in the ocean you can get tired fast, it is important when you do start to feel tired that you should get out, rest, and refuel before going back into the ocean. When you become tired, you are not able to swim as well and this could lead to you being in trouble. It is also important to remember not to panic if the waves do get too rough, carefully swim out of the ocean or alert an adult by waving your arms if you are struggling to escape the waves.

Rip currents (Riptides)

The ocean has rip currents also known as riptides that are strong and sometimes you can accidentally swim into these. Riptides are so strong they will carry you away from the shore before you realise what is happening.
If you are caught in a current there are a few things you must do;
1. You have to swim parallel to the shore, this means you should not try to swim towards the shore, if you do you will lose your energy fast as you will be battling the current.
2. ¬†Once the water stops pulling you, then you may start to swim back to the shore, you should swim diagonally back to the shore. If you are unable to get back to the shore, tread water and wave for a lifeguard’s help.
3. Always stay calm and never panic, if you panic you will be in more danger as you will wear yourself out and you will become exhausted.

Remember never fight against the current, a rip current will only extend back up to 100m, or less, and the further out you get from the shore, the slower the current will get, which will make it easier to escape.
You can notice riptides by identifying places where waves are not breaking, look for gaps in the waves, while they may look calmer and safe to splash in they are in fact not safe.

Jellyfish

Jellyfish are often found near the shore, they are umbrella-shaped, nearly clear, and they can grow very large, in fact they can grow several feet in diameter. Sometimes when they are swimming in the ocean you may not see them at first.
Jellyfish sting and this is very painful and can cause blisters on your skin. If you get stung it is important to tell an adult as quickly as possible.

Top tips to keep you safe

  1. Young children or children who are not confident swimmers should wear a lifejacket rather than arm bands, this offers greater protection to children.
  2. Always stay with an adult, you should not swim off alone.
  3. Stay where lifegaurds can see you, normally there are areas marked for swimmers in which you must stay within.
  4. Do not swim out too far.
  5. Do not swim too close to piers, if a strong current or wave comes they could knock you into the legs of the piers or you could hit a rock. This could hurt you, affecting your ability to swim. If you hit your head you could also be knocked unconscious, meaning you could drown.
  6. Always face the waves, if you turn your back on them you will not know what is coming.
  7. Never pretend to be drowning, lifeguards may take you seriously.
  8. Never swim in the ocean when it is dark, this is very dangerous as you cannot see what is approaching you in the water. In addition, if you get into trouble there may not be any lifeguards on the beach to help you.
  9. Never swim in the ocean if there is a storm approaching, beaches will close and red flags will be flying, this means you need to stay out of the ocean and sometimes off the beach itself.
  10. Always stay hydrated when you are swimming, you need to drink lots of fluids so you do not become dehydrated.
  11. Never take glass to the beach, these can break which is dangerous if this gets in the sand, as someone could cut their foot open on the sharp glass. You should use reusable plastic cups that you can take away with you when you leave.
  12. Remember when you become tired you should get out of the water to rest.