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A trip to the beach should be fun. Unfortunately, many people are injured or killed each year along our nation's beaches by dangerous waves and currents.

The National Weather Service (NWS) can help ensure you leave the beach with good memories. NWS provides you with the information you need to stay safe on beaches and in coastal areas and surf zones. A surf zone is defined as the area of water between the beach/shore and the first line of breaking waves.

When you visit the beach, you need to know about the hazards you may face. Staying aware and alert is what will help to keep you safe in the dynamic conditions found on every beach.

Before entering the water, talk with a lifeguard or beach patrol. No one will know the current water conditions better than they will.
Whenever possible, swim at beaches with lifeguards. The chances of drowning at a beach with lifeguards are 1 in 18 million. (U.S. Lifesaving Association)

What you should do when first arriving at the beach

What to Know

To stay safe, you need to stay aware of the weather, the ocean, tide, and what is going on around you.
Storms, such as thunderstorms, tropical storms, and hurricanes far out at sea can create dangerous waves and currents at the beach, even on a sunny day!
Even small waves can hit you with the force of a car! Getting knocked down or pinned to the sand (e.g., log debris on the northwest coast) can cause serious injury.
Know how to swim.

What to Do

Before leaving for the beach, check the official surf zone forecast and/or beach advisories and closings.

Arrive knowing the local weather, surf, and tide forecasts. Look to see if there are statements regarding waves, dangerous currents, or other beach hazards.
Be prepared by having United States Coast Guard approved life jackets, as well as flotation devices like a boat flotation cushion with you.  Know the address of the beach should you need to call for help, as well as the location of the life stations on the beach equipped with life rings that could be thrown to someone in trouble.
Swim near a lifeguard.

Always remember: if you want to stay safe at the beach, respect the power of the ocean!