Wet ‘N’ Wild With Rockin’ Fig:

Summer beach tips

June 11, 2009|By RICK FIGNETTI

It’s about that time of year again — kids almost out of school, people taking vacations, everybody getting ready to hit our Surf City beaches. So here’s a few helpful tips to keep in mind when you’re down to the beach to have some fun.

It’s advisable to swim or surf by a lifeguard tower for a little extra safety, as the guards are looking out at the ocean for any possible rescue situations.

The lifeguards are a great source of information, letting you know water safety just by the flag they’re flying. Green means, relatively speaking, safe conditions, while yellow means use caution as there could be some riptides or drift to worry about. Red means hazardous conditions; you should use extreme caution, or stay in. You might even want to ask the guard on duty about currents, bottom contour or possible obstacles to watch for.


Before heading in, you should do a little stretching to loosen muscles to avoid cramping. Survey the lineup to see which direction the water might be moving, south swell pushing water to the north or north swell pushing water to the south. If you’re on the south side of the pier on a south swell, it will push you into the pilings, the danger zone. The sand bottom is constantly changing, and shallow spots or sandbars or deep water trenches could be trouble. Don’t dive in head first; many people have hurt their necks not knowing what’s below, and inexperienced swimmers may get caught in some of these deep holes and panic not being able to touch bottom. It’s not a bad idea to swim or surf with a buddy just in case someone gets hurt.

There’s been a few stingrays out there with the warm water, so shuffle your feet as you’re heading out to let them know you’re coming. If you’re stung by one, soaking your foot in warm water seems to help get the venom or barb out. Watch for riptides; they usually suck you out to sea. Try to stay calm and swim parallel to the beach to get out of it. Raising your arm and waving it should alert the lifeguard if a rescue is needed. In case of injury, flag down a lifeguard Jeep; they’ll know what to do to assist you for medical treatment.

In the few drownings we have had, alcohol or drugs are usually part of the probable cause. Don’t go swimming if you’re under the influence. Don’t forget that sunblock; SPF 30 or better will stop the lobster sunburn, which really hurts. And watch out for burning charcoals in the fire pits; some people, believe it or not, jump in them only to get a hot foot burn.

Let’s “Keep Our Beaches Clean” and put the trash in the trash canisters, and no breaking bottles. I hate it when I get a glass sliver in my foot.

Keep these things in mind and let’s have some fun and let the summer begin. See you at the beach!

Over and out.

RICK FIGNETTI is a 10-time West Coast champion and a longtime KROQ-FM surfologist. He owns a surf shop on Main Street. You can reach him at (714) 536-1058.

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