Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, people of all ages, it is time to get excited because we are on the cusp of the best time of the year again! I have so patiently waited nearly 365 days for my favorite season to finally come back around, and it is almost here- SUMMER!! Sunshine, salty hair, cold drinks, tanned skin, and never-ending smiles are just around the corner. I can't believe I am saying this, but we have almost made it!
Lucky for me, I have had the privilege of spending almost all my summers growing up at the ocean, and I could not imagine life without it. The past 5 summers now I have had the best dream job in the world (ocean lifeguarding), and I am so absolutely fired up for another season of lifesaving, laughs, boat rides, surfing, and so much more.
One could say when it comes to the ocean and the beach I know a little more than the average person. My job is literally to people watch, so I have seen first hand some of the most obnoxious, inconsiderate, but also ridiculously good looking people to ever set foot on the beach.
When it comes to beach going, there is an unspoken list of rules of beach etiquette and safety that probably 80% of the human population fails to follow.
I know your thinking, "Woah, 80%! Let's not be so dramatic Hannah!" But listen up people- believe it or not, after all my years of people watching and beach going, I can assure you 80% is probably an understatement. Here are some simple guidelines and rules that could maybe even help you this summer.
1. Be gone cigarettes!
Please, do not smoke cigarettes on the beach. The smoke blows hundreds of yards down the shoreline and no one wants to smell that. The parking lot is always a valid option.
2. Stop fishing near swimmers.
If you plan on fishing, DO NOT fish anywhere near swimmers or surfers. I have had to deal with plenty of patrons crying because of a fish hook through the skin- and yes, I still cringe every time it happens.
3. Stop faking it.
Do not fake drown or call for help regardless of how attractive you think the lifeguard is. We have to radio to emergency response services any time we go into the water for a rescue. Have fun explaining to all the fireman why you just faked a drowning.
4. Leave some room.
Do not set your gear up in front of a lifeguard stand. Seriously, it is common sense. Lifeguards need an opening through the crowd of people to run to the water for a rescue. We can not do that if you place your tent and beach chairs directly in front of us.
5. Your child, your responsibility.
PLEASE, do not be that mother/father that thinks they can take a nap and let their kids play in the water because there is a lifeguard on duty. Odds are we have about 200 plus other people to look after as well. Your kid, your responsibility. This happens way more often than you think.
6. The sand bar is not a safety net.
The sand bar is not your friend. After you have played out on it for a couple of hours the tide has changed and now you can no longer touch when trying to make it back to shore. So many rescues occur because people think of the sandbar as a safety net. It is not.
7. Volume check.
I am all for playing music, but no need to bring your huge speaker and blast your music with a million swear words for the entire beach to hear. Odds are there is an elder couple or little kids somewhere near you. Not to mention if it is really loud lifeguards can not hear people calling for help or hear the location on our radios for a rescue on the beach. It just becomes rude and can be avoided with some headphones.
8. Cover up buttercup.
To all the old men who like to wear speedos, g strings, or banana hammocks on the beach, it might look nice to your lover, but to the other 99.99% of people on the beach you are scaring us. Please put some board shorts on. They won't kill you.
9. The towel shaking has got to stop.
Do not shake your sandy towel if you are near anyone. Drag it up to the dunes and make sure that when you shake it out sand is not blowing in everyone's face. This goes for spray-on sunscreen too. No one wants that in their eyes.
10. Listen to the Flags.
If there happens to be red flags on the beach, please, for the love of anything good in this world- DO NOT go in the water. WE DO NOT CARE if you are or were a lifeguard at a pool, lake or beach or if you are "a really good swimmer". Nothing is more frustrating than someone who continues to ignore the flags/warnings and end up not only being a bad example for the rest of the patrons on the beach, but when (not if) they have to get rescued and other patrons go in to help it quickly becomes a mass rescue which can be detrimental.
11. Personal space- it is still a thing!
If you get to the beach and it is surprisingly not crowded, PLEASE do not put all your stuff down right next to a group of people you do not know. I feel like the beach could be completely empty and for some reason, the most obnoxious group always decides to sit 6 feet away from me. Common courtesy folks.
12. After all, we are guest in their home.
Do not ask the lifeguard if there are any sharks out there or if there has been any shark sightings. It is the ocean, they are out there, we are in their home, and odds are you are going to be fine. I think I probably got asked this several times a day. Also, do not mistake a dolphin for a shark and scream to everyone you saw a shark. 9/10 it is a dolphin. An easy way to tell is by noticing if the fin is curved or straight. If it is curved, it's a dolphin.
13. Rats with wings.
Please- DO NOT FEED THE SEAGULLS. They are rats with wings and are more vicious then they look. If you feed one, the next thing you know you will have a whole flock of them swarming and pooping on everyone around you. One time when I was on duty a seagull landed on my head and took the bagel right out of my hands. I haven't really been the same since.
14. Leave room for Jesus.
No one likes PDA. Please do not be that couple who won't stop cuddling or making out with each other. I know the beach may feel like home to you- but the reality is you are not in a house. You are in public and everyone can see you. It is just plain gross!
15. Goodbye umbrellas.
If it is extremely windy, do not use an umbrella. It WILL blow away and can quickly become a weapon. You have no idea how many nearly took my head off and left me dodging left and right while sitting on the stand. I actually witnessed a patron get punctured with one- and no, it was not pretty.
16. Swim parallel!
If you get stuck in a rip current and quickly get swept out to the sea, DO NOT panic or try and fight (swim against) the current. Try and float and swim parallel to the shore. Always remember to stay calm.
17. Move out of the way torons. (tourist/morons)
Please stay out of the surfer's way. You have the entire ocean to swim in, and it is just annoying for surfers to have to try and avoid you instead of enjoying the ride they just caught. If you have no idea how to surf and rented out a blue wavestorm foam soft top, do not surf where all the surfers are. You will get in their way and will be made fun of. Sorry, just saying it how it is.
18. Less is more.
If you are a typical soccer mom and decided to bring your entire garage and full grocery list to the beach, please pick up your trash. The amount of trash that is left behind is very frustrating and completely inconsiderate to sea life. When it comes to a day at the beach, less is more. In reality all you need is a towel, a water bottle, sunscreen, and maybe a snack. That is it. Not a wagon full of beach supplies to last you 5 days.
If you see flashing lights and hear sirens coming in your direction, do not stand in the same spot like a deer stuck in head lights. Move out of the way, and please grab your kids in the process. Someone is drowning and we need to get to the scene as quick as possible. We can not do that if you are refusing to move and yelling at us to slow down. Every second counts when it comes to life or death.
20. We are here to help.
Most importantly, do not get mad at the lifeguards for doing their jobs. We are trained to do and say what is best for any of the patrons on the beach's well being. The most rewarding feeling for any lifeguard out there is knowing after that tough messy rescue, we know we just saved someone life. We are not there to try and make your life miserable by enforcing rules, but instead, we are just trying to keep you and your loved ones safe.
Looks like it is time to let the countdown begin folks! Let's have the best, and SAFEST ocean packed summer yet!