When Red Flags Fly at the Beach, ‘Stay out, stay alive’
It is certainly tragic that three people died this past weekend while swimming in the ocean off Jersey Shore beaches and the real tragedy is that those deaths were preventable.
Adults ages 34, 44 and 60 lost their lives in Long Branch, Seaside Park and Point Pleasant Beach because they did listen to warnings to stay out of the ocean and another 125 people were rescued on shore beaches, most of which are unguarded after Labor Day.
This was all due to the combination of 80 plus degree days and rough surf with strong rip tides. It looked like a beach weekend in July and not the first weekend of fall as many, including yours truly pulled out their beach chairs for one more day in the sun. You did not have to be an expert to know that while the ocean might have looked inviting by doing more than a quick dip in shallow water you were inviting trouble and that’s what many got.
Three lost their lives because of it.
The number of drownings would likely have been much greater if shore towns did not prepare by either calling in lifeguards for the weekend or at the very least have police patrol the beaches with an eye on swimmers in trouble.
In some towns it is easier to get a group of guards to work on short notice, especially if a handful will cover most of the beach. However in others that becomes a greater challenge and to be honest if not for summer-like weather this would likely not even be an issue.
The truth is it comes down to common sense and that’s where many fall short. Someone I know posted a comment on Facebook in which he took exception to the fact that swimming was not allowed on the beach he was on Sunday and wanted to know what happened to “swim at your own risk.”
Well, the answer is unfortunately that you are not just risking your life but the person or persons who may have to drag you out of the ocean. Some of the rescues made over the weekend were not by lifeguards or water rescue groups but rather by other beach goers and surfers who risked their own lives to help others.
We should know by now that the ocean is often a dangerous place to be. As the late Captain John Boyd used to say at the end of the day when guards were leaving the beach in Seaside Heights: ”stay out, stay alive.”