Coast Guard Urges Beach Safety

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — Coast Guard Sector San Francisco urges beach safety for beach-goers throughout California, especially during winter months. Many coastline accidents can be prevented with the knowledge of beach hazards and weather and surf conditions prior to your visit.

Here are some hazards to consider during a visit to any of California’s beaches:

Rogue waves, or sneaker waves, are larger and more powerful waves that are mixed in with the average size breaking surf. These powerful sneaker waves can suddenly crash onto people walking on the beach, standing on rocks, or even standing on man-made jetties or break walls. These waves have the potential to pull people into the dangerous surf, hold them under the surface of the water, or throw them onto nearby rocks. Sneaker waves can be generated by offshore storms or by the combination of two or more smaller waves traveling at the same speed and direction. To avoid these dangerous waves, do not walk too close to the waterline, do not turn your back on the surf zone, and always be aware of your surroundings.

* Be aware of weather conditions and forecasts, especially when surf is high.
* Be looking for the next wave when in or near the water.
* Remember that sneaker waves are hard to predict.
* Respect the power of the sea.

* Never assume a false sense of security at the beach.
* Never go near the water’s edge alone.

Rip currents can be the most dangerous threat to people on the beach or wading in the surf. Rip currents flow away from shore and can form anywhere there are breaking waves. They are powerful enough to pull even the strongest swimmer out to sea. These currents usually extend away from the shoreline at nearly a ninety degree angle, through the surf zone and the past the line of breaking waves. These currents can be a danger to anyone wading or swimming in the surf zone.

If Caught in a Rip Current:
* Remain calm and do not fight the current.
* Escape the current by swimming parallel to the shore.
* Face the shore and call or wave for help.
* If you cannot escape, float or tread water until the current weakens. Then swim at an angle toward the shore.

The California coastline has many steep, rocky cliffs as well as many rocky areas in dangerous surf zones. Surf zones are areas of coastline that experience regular heavy surf conditions, which make it difficult or impossible to get back ashore if you fall into the water. The best way to stay safe on the rugged California coastline is to stay away from these rocky areas.

Rocky areas can be especially hazardous during a rising tide. Beach-goers can find themselves stranded on rocks surrounded by water, only minutes after the beach was completely exposed. Rising tides can also quickly trap people in small coves along the beach. The best way to avoid these situations is to be aware of the tidal state and the tidal prediction for the area of your beach visit.

Jetties are man-made structures that project outward from shore to deflect powerful waves away from a harbor or coastline. During times of heavy surf the surface of the material that make up jetties (usually rocks or concrete) can become slippery or loose To avoid falling into the water or onto the rocks, do not climb or hike on jetties. If you see someone stranded on the rocks call 911 or call the Coast Guard. You can also call the local harbor master for assistance.

Here are some planning tips for your visit to the beach:

* Be aware of current weather forecast.
* Be aware of the tidal state and tidal predictions.
* Never swim in areas without a lifeguard.
* Never swim alone.
* Be aware of your surroundings (rocks, other hazards).
* Do not play on the rocks or driftwood.
* Never turn your back on the water.
* Do not overestimate your swimming abilities.
* Do not underestimate the power of the sea.
* Always tell someone where you will be and when you will return.
* Know how to contact help if needed.

* Keep your children in sight at all times.
* Keep your children away from the rocks. Rocks can be slippery when wet and can be very dangerous due to rising tides and sneaker waves.
* Swim only in areas where lifeguards are present.
* Do not allow children to swim in areas where personal water craft or boats are present.

* Contact the lifeguard on duty or beach security.
* Call 911.
* Call the Coast Guard.Coast Guard, , ,

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