Beach Safety

Here's some beach safety solutions that you might find useful. San Diego beaches may appear picture perfect but there are many hidden dangers. Below are simple solutions to common beach problems.

san diego red tide
Simple solution to Red Tides: before you head to the beach, listen to the radio or check the internet for local water conditions. The County of San Diego Department of Environmental Health (DEH) posts health advisory to warn people when the waters are unsafe for swimming. Shown: red tide bioluminescence in ocean near Carlsbad. Photo from

san diego red tide
Simple solution to fish and shellfish contamination: The EPA and FDA recommends that you eat fish and shellfish in moderation to gain nutrients and good health. However, avoid fish that are high-up in the food-chain since these accumulate more toxins in their bodies. These include shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish. Babies, young children, pregnant women, nursing moms, and soon-to-be-pregnant women should be especially careful. Photo from

Simple solution to rip currents: unfortunately, there is no simple solution to counter the effects of rip currents, however, there are a few things you can do to minimize your danger.
    san diego red tide
  1. read the signs and notices to check for rip currents before entering the ocean,
  2. Look around, sometimes you can identify a rip current by seeing a channel of choppy, churning water, or a channel of seaweed and foam moving away from the shore.
  3. Swim where there is a life guard on duty.
  4. Always swim with a buddy.
  5. If you are caught in a rip current, relax and let the current sweep you out. When the force of the current diminishes, swim parallel to the shore until you are out of the current then, swim back to shore.
  6. Face towards the shore, wave your arms in the air and yell for help.
Photo from

San Diego sting ray
Simple solution to sting rays: look before you step. Shuffle your feet as you walk in the water, this may spook the sting ray to swim away before you step on it. Wear water shoes so that you do not step on the sting ray directly. Depending on the quality of the shoe, it may or may not protect completely. If stung, get help from a life guard or go to emergency - often they will soak your foot in very hot water to break down the venom. Photo from

San Diego jellyfish

Simple solution to jellyfish stings: avoid all jelly fish at all times. If you must swim in jellyfish infested waters, then wear protective clothing such as a full-body wet-suit. If you are stung by a jellyfish, get out of the water and seek help from a life guard or a medical doctor. Methods of dealing with jellyfish stings depends on how severity of the condition. It may be as simple as a warm wash to prevent infection, or as difficult as to deactivate the toxin containing cells (with vinegar) and scraping off the tentacles (with a credit card). Photo from

San Diego shark attack
Simple solution to sharks: Shark attacks in San Diego are very rare but not impossible. There is no simple solution to avoid shark attack other than to stop swimming in the oceans. Some things may deter sharks such as electric fields, magnents and chemicals (which smell like rotting shark); however, these repellents produce different results depending on the type of sharks tested. Photo from

san diego red tide
Simple solution to UV rays:
- cover your body as best as possible,
- wear a wide-rimmed hat,
- wear sunglasses,
- apply sunscreen of SPF 15+,
- stay in the shade as much as possible, and
- avoid the sun during peak hours.
Photo from

San Diego pollutants bacteria
Simple solution to ocean bacteria and pollutants: Check the internet and radio for advisories warning people of dangerous levels of bacteria and pollutants. Definitely avoid swimming in the ocean the day after a rain storm. The rain tends to wash the city's dirt into the ocean.
Photo from County of San Diego.

San Diego pollutants bacteria
Simple solution to garbage: be careful and watch where you step. Help keep the beach clean by picking up your trash and putting it in the trash can. Help more by picking up other people's trash and putting it in the trash cans. Be part of the solution and join the annual California Coastal Cleanup event. In 2008, over 7700 volunteers removed 160,000 pounds of trash in a period of 3 hours. You can make a difference!

san diego red tide
Simple solution to Bad Guys: During daylight hours, avoid leaving your belongings unattended. If you do leave your things by the beach towel, try to be within seeing distance of your things. Don't be an easy target: keep valuables out of sight - this is especially true for small, easy to steal items such as cameras, purses, wallets, watches, iPods, iPhones etc.

In the evenings, most people go home, but some do not. This is especially true in beaches where beach fires are permitted and large groups congregate. Rarely is there serious trouble, but call the police if you see inappropriate behavior. Otherwise, just be like all the good folks and go home. Photo: La Jolla Shores with beach fires in the early evening and at night.