Home National Stories Christopher Denn on Beach Safety from a Lifeguard’s Perspective

Christopher Denn on Beach Safety from a Lifeguard’s Perspective

Christopher Denn

Owner and founder of Oar House LLC, Christopher Denn, is an ocean lifeguard with more than three decades of experience. Now that the calendar has officially turned to a new year, it won’t be long before families are returning to the beach for their summer vacations. While no one loves the beach as much as Chris Denn, there are real dangers involved with swimming in the ocean. Today, Chris Denn wanted to take the opportunity to discuss steps parents can take to prepare their children for a fun and safe beach day.

The best thing for anyone to do before entering the ocean is to ensure they know how to swim. Plenty of swimming lessons are available throughout the winter and spring seasons can greatly help increase a child’s safety in the ocean. Of course, swimming lessons are just a start. Children should still be under the watchful eye of an adult whenever they enter the water. This is especially true of the ocean. Chris Denn also recommends that parents put life jackets on their younger swimmers.

Most beach towns across the nation will have designated streets where a lifeguard is on duty. Chris Denn recommends that beach visitors know which streets are under lifeguard supervision so that they can plan their trip accordingly. Lifeguards will typically utilize a flag system to indicate the area of the water that they are supervising. Chris Denn can’t emphasize enough how important it is for a child to swim within the scanning zone. If the riptide is causing people to drift outside the zone, lifeguards will blow their whistles and indicate that swimmers must return to the designated area. One of the added benefits of swimming in the scanning zone of a lifeguard is that the lifeguards have checked that area on duty to ensure there are no hidden dangers, such as docks or unseen drop-offs. The water surrounding piers and docks is typically rough and frequently features rip currents.

Another important note from Chris Denn is never to dive when swimming in the ocean. People of all ages will often try to dive in to enjoy some body surfing. It’s rare for ocean water to offer clear visibility. Swimmers never know what they can hit their head on when diving. Chris Denn recommends wading in slowly to ensure stable footing. A lot of these safety tips apply to children and adults alike. This is certainly true of swimming with a friend. Most serious incidents resulting in injury or death occur to swimmers who head out on their lonesome. If a friend is not interested in swimming, they should keep an eye out from the shore.

When it comes to additional guidance for children, the hardest rule to enforce is often taking breaks. Chris Denn knows how much kids love swimming in the ocean, but swimming can dehydrate a child on a hot summer’s day. Setting time for mandatory breaks is a great way to reapply sunscreen and make sure kids have a chance to drink some water. Kids who won’t sit still for sunscreen can benefit from swim shirts designed with SPF protection. These are often the best options for kids who won’t wait 15 minutes for the sunscreen to absorb fully.

Finally, the most important tip Chris Denn can provide anyone swimming in the ocean is understanding the power of a rough rip current. If a person finds themselves in an open water area and feels the pull of a riptide, the worse thing they can do is try to fight and swim against it. The best thing a swimmer can do is stay calm and swim parallel to the shore. Eventually, the current will let the swimmer go, and they can safely return to shore. Instead of fighting against the current, swimmers should also look to make themselves as visible as possible. This will help lifeguards or other beachgoers identify them and get the help they need.