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As residents and visitors head to the 110 miles of shoreline along Dare County’s Outer Banks, Emergency Management officials urge beachgoers to beware of the of potential hazards and safety concerns they may encounter as they take to the shores.
Monitor the Weather
Weather forecasts can change rapidly. Check the forecast before you head to the beach. If thunder roars, head indoors. Lightning often strikes more than three miles from the center of the thunderstorm, far outside the rain or thunderstorm cloud. “Bolts from the blue” can strike 10-15 miles from the thunderstorm.
Swim Near a Lifeguard
Never swim alone. Lifeguards and information located on lifeguard stands provide beach goers with valuable information about current beach conditions. In addition to roving ocean rescue personnel on ATV's, lifeguards are stationed at the following beach access points:
From Memorial Day through Labor Day - Byrd Street, Eckner Street, Kitty Hawk Bath House
Memorial Day through Labor Day - Albatross Street, Abalone Street, Bonnett Steet, Hollowell Aveune, Enterprise Stree, Nags Head Town Hall, Epstein Street Bathhouse, Forrest Street, Gray Eagle Street, Gulfstream Street, Hargrove Street, Ida Street, Indigo Street, Juncos Street, Limulus Drive
Memorial Day through Labor Day - Helga Street, Hayman Street, Eden Street, Avalon Pier, 5th Street, 3rd Street, 2nd Street, 1st Street, Coral Drive, Asheville Drive, Woodmere Avenue, Carlow Avenue, Ocean Bay Boulevard, Oregon Avenue, Baum Street, Clark Street, Martin Street, Atlantic Street, Ocean Acres Beach Access (Neptune Drive), Lake Drive, Eighth Street
From Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend - Hillcrest Drive & Chicahauk Trail
From Mid-June through Mid-August - E. Dogwood Trail & 142 Ocean Boulevard
From May 26 through September 4, 2018 - Caffey’s Inlet, Sprigtail Drive, Barrier Island Station, Schooner Ridge Drive, Christopher Drive, Four Seasons
From June 16 through August 12, 2018 - Ocean Pines, Snow Geese, Scarborough Lane, Plover Drive
From Memorial Day through Labor Day - Coquina Beach (across from the Bodie Island Lighthouse site), Cape Hatteras Lighthouse Beach, Ocracoke Day Use Area
Please note, should conditions on the beach change, stand locations may be shifted. Please heed words of caution, advisories, and/or the flying of red (no swimming) flags. They are issued for your safety.
Rip currents, encounters with marine life, submerged objects, sand bar drop-offs, and jellyfish are just a few of the hazards found in near shore waters. Stay alert to your surroundings and keep an eye on family and friends. Don’t let alcohol impair your common sense. When visiting the beach with children, adults should take turns as the designated “water watcher” and keep an eye on children in the water at all times, avoiding all distractions including smartphones.
The force of shorebreak waves can catch unsuspecting swimmers off guard driving them into the sand, causing neck and back injuries, and in some cases, even drowning.
Marine Life Encounters
Ocean and sound waters are the home to a wide variety of marine life including predators like sharks. Beachgoers need to be aware of their surroundings before they make the personal decision to enter the water. Some tips to reduce your risks include: avoid swimming in areas where people are fishing and near fishing piers, avoid areas where schools of fish are active, don’t wear or take jewelry and shiny objects into the water as reflective light resembles fish scales, stay out of the water if you are bleeding or have open sores.
Ocean rescue personnel and lifeguards must be able to drive on the sand day and night to quickly provide emergency services to those in need. Large holes in the sand can be difficult to see and are dangerous obstacles. Sand collapses can occur in holes just a few feet deep. Children and adults should not dig holes deeper than their knees when standing in them. If you do dig, fill it in.
Know Your Location
In an emergency, every second counts. The Dare County Sheriff’s 911 Communications staff may not be able to immediately identify your location from a cell phone. Pay attention to what street you access the beach or sound from and what milepost you are located near. If you are unable to provide an address or location of the emergency, response times can be hindered in life or death situations.
Why Are Red Flags Flying?
If red flags are flying, swimming is prohibited. For your safety and the safety of ocean rescue staff. Although flags may be posted on sunny warm days with blue skies, it means the water conditions are not safe to swim in.