In terms of drownings, January has been off to a tragic start in California. In Northern California, there have been four drownings so far off the coast and in Southern California there have been a few reported drownings as well.
The first Northern California drowning involved an individual who with his wife were viewing the ocean when he decided to scramble down onto the rocks, then slipped and fell into the water. Despite searchers on jet skis and another twenty personnel on the beach the victim was not found for some time later due to the extreme ocean/surf conditions.
The second drowning involved a father and two children. The kids were playing on the beach when a large rogue wave swept the kids into the water which prompted the father to step into action to save his children. The extreme ocean/surf conditions were just too much for him and he became overwhelmed. The body of the father was recovered however the two children that were swept up by the waves have yet to be found and recovered.
The message being conveyed by ocean lifeguard agencies up and down the state is to take all precautions when visiting the beach especially with the high surf and extreme ocean conditions. The ocean may not be very forgiving and does not discriminate between a non-swimmer or an experienced ocean lifeguard.
The following link is a video that clearly illustrates how difficult ocean rescues can be. **PLEASE BE WARNED THAT VIDEO IS GRAPHIC. VIEWER DISCRETION ADVISED!!
Did you know that 43 percent of drownings occur in open water settings. Drowning in pools makes up 38 percent of drownings.
The risks from swimming in open water include:
- Rapid water temperature changes
- Steep drop-offs
- Difficult to judge distances
- Limited visibility
- Dangerous currents
- Increased vegetation and rocks
Before you head to the beach it would be a good idea to check the latest weather and surf conditions. Upon arrival, it would also be wise to check in with lifeguards. If no lifeguards are on duty, it may be a good idea to find a part of the beach with an open lifeguard tower.
If you are sightseeing it would be a good idea to stay off the jetties and/or rocks. This is where many get into to trouble and where drownings/injures happen. This is also an area that presents the most danger for seasoned ocean lifeguards to make rescues and puts lives at risk.
The bottom line is to have fun but please take all precautions necessary.