Letter to the Editor

printed 07/02/2021


As we approach the start of the busiest time of the summer, I want to share some safety reminders if you head to the beach. Eleven years ago today, I held the end of an umbrella sticking out of a lady’s thigh while the paramedics sawed the top off after it blew down the beach.

Twenty-six years ago, I was on scene while the fire/paramedics tried to locate a 12-year-old boy who dug a tunnel in the sand with his friends and it collapsed.

When the boys went for help, they forgot where the exact spot was. He died after 45 minutes of being under the sand from suffocation and was found almost 90 minutes later.

I came to the beach too many times the morning after to start my shift when a family on vacation lost their child or husband for swimming when the guards were off duty.

I was involved in CPR a few times on someone who dove head first into the ocean and became an instant paraplegic.

I watched the aftermath of a crew chief on our Beach Patrol give CPR to his best friend who was struck by lightning on his four-wheeler trying to get people off the beach who wouldn’t listen during a storm (he lived, thank God).

My post is not to scare anyone. My post is to educate. Please take your umbrella down on a very windy day. Make sure it is secure in the sand.

There is a reason holes on the beach are only allowed to be dug to the smallest person in your group’s knees (the story above is just one of many of those types of incidents).

And please fill it in when you leave. When the guards [whistle] you out of the water at 5:25 p.m. to let you know they are leaving at 5:30 p.m., stay out.

Trust me when I say Mother Nature is stronger than you (local surfers thank you for the many rescues you have done before and after hours).

Please do not run and dive into the ocean, especially without checking the depth of what you are diving into. And if there is a bad shore break, don’t use a boogie board or body surf.

Not sure if the shore break is bad? Ask the lifeguard.

And please if the guards blow you off the beach for an upcoming storm, leave. And do not sit under your umbrella. An entire family was killed before my guarding days sitting under an umbrella in the inlet. Automatic lightning rod.

Give your children a good identification spot of where you are on the beach. When they move with the current, that “orange” umbrella looks like everyone else’s.

Also let them know to go to a lifeguard if they get lost: 100 percent of our lost children have been found and located by our awesome beach patrol and police department.

Remind them to never leave the beach if lost. Many of the hand signals you see the guards doing with the flags are on lost and found children.

There are none right now, but if you get a jellyfish sting, rub wet sand on the area. Also guards carry sting kill for those as well as bee stings.

Oh and wear your sunblock and hydrate.

Thank you for reading and I hope everyone has a safe and happy summer.

Colby Phillips

Sergeant OCBP

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