Brunswick County Beaches
A trip to the beach should be a fun experience! Unfortunately, many people are injured each year along our nation's beaches. When you visit the beach, you need to know about the hazards you may face. Staying aware and alert will help keep you safe!
What To Know
How to Swim
- Swimming in a pool is not the same as swimming at a surf beach with crashing waves, winds, and dangerous currents. Changing ocean currents and winds can quickly exhaust your energy and strength.
- You should be a strong swimmer before you go into the ocean.
- Take swimming lessons.
Read the beach safety signs at the entrance to the beach/near public beach accesses. Be sure to read the beach's rules and regulations before going on the beach.
Weather & Tide Conditions
- To stay safe, you need to stay aware of the weather, the ocean, tide, and what is going on around you.
- Know the address of the beach in case you need to call for help.
- 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. Learn about local hazards before going to the beach.
- Even small waves can hit you with the force of a car! Getting knocked down or pinned to the sand can cause serious injury.
What To Do
Check Forecasts & Advisories
- Before leaving for the beach, check the official weather, surf, and tide forecasts. Also, check for any beach advisories and closings.
Get Life Jackets
Be prepared by getting United States Coast Guard approved life jackets, as well as flotation devices like a boat flotation cushion.
If you want to stay safe at the beach, respect the power of the ocean!
During Your Trip
While at our Brunswick County beaches, we ask that all residents and visitors be respectful of the environment, beach regulations, and people around them. We all need to do our part in keeping our shorelines safe and clean.
While everyone loves a sunny day, exposure to the heat and sun affects the body in multiple ways.
Immediate effects include:
- Painful sunburn
- Heat exhaustion
- Heat cramps
- Potentially fatal heat stroke
Long-term effects include:
- Skin cancer
- Premature aging
Beat the heat and block the sun. To protect yourself:
- Drink plenty of water
- Avoid alcohol (PDF)
- Take breaks inside during the hottest parts of the day (9 am to 3 pm. Standard Time; 10 am to 4 pm. Daylight Saving Time).
- Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen that filters out both UVA and UVB rays and has an SPF of 15 or higher before you go outside. Reapply sunscreen every two hours and every time after swimming, sweating, or toweling off.
- Use UPF protective clothing that covers the skin. Put on a dry cover-up when possible; a wet piece of clothing offers much less UV protection than a dry one.
- Wear sunglasses that block 100% of UV rays. Wrap-around sunglasses work best because they block UV rays from sneaking in from the side.
Always swim with one or more people and make sure you know someone on shore that has a cell phone.
- According to the United States Lifesaving Association (USLA), many drownings involve single swimmers.
- When you swim with a buddy, if one of you has a problem, the other may be able to help, which includes signaling for assistance from others. At least have someone onshore watching you so if an emergency does happen, they can call for help.
- If you go to the beach with at least four people, two can be in the ocean swimming, one on the beach watching, and one available to take lifesaving actions while the other continues to spot the location of those caught in a rip current.
- In case of an emergency, call 911.
Stay on the lookout for rip currents.
- View the Currents page
- Always respect the power of the ocean.
- Check your local weather and tides. Observe conditions before entering water and throughout the day.
- When entering the water, turn knees and hips sideways to help keep your balance.
- Duck under waves, do not dive.
- Never turn your back on the waves.
- Keep children within arms reach and never take your eyes off of them.
- Protect yourself before helping others.
Alcohol and water don't mix. Avoid water recreation when under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Alcohol impairs balance, coordination, and judgment, and it increases risk-taking behavior. Its effects are also heightened by sun exposure and heat. Learn more from the Centers for Disease and Control Prevention (CDC).
- Among adolescents and adults, alcohol use is involved in:
- Up to 70% of deaths associated with water recreation, like boating or swimming
- Nearly 1 in 4 emergency department visits for drowning
- About 1 in 5 reported boating deaths
Enter the water feet first.
- Check for depth and obstructions before entering the water, then go in feet first; and use caution when riding waves, always extending arms ahead of the body.
- Life-altering injuries from spinal damage, including paraplegia, occur every year on our nation's beaches. The most common cause is diving headfirst and striking the bottom. In addition, surfing, bodyboarding, and bodysurfing can lead to spinal injuries if precautions are not taken to avoid striking the bottom headfirst. Learn more from USLA's spinal injury prevention page.
Wear a life jacket.
- Life jackets reduce the risk of drowning while boating for people of all ages and swimming abilities.
- Life jackets should be used by non-swimmers, weaker swimmers, and children for all activities while in and around bodies of water (e.g. oceans, Intracoastal Waterways, rivers, swimming pools, etc.).
- Do not rely on air-filled or foam toys, as these are not safety devices.
- Designate a responsible adult to supervise closely and constantly when children are in or near water (including bathtubs). You can assign a specific adult to supervise each child when they have access to water.
- Adults watching kids in or near water should avoid distracting activities like reading, using the phone, and consuming alcohol or drugs, because drowning happens quickly and quietly.
- After swim time is over, shut and lock doors that give access to water.
- Be proactive and learn about any risks when visiting another home or unfamiliar location.
- NWS: Actions to Take at the Beach to Protect You, Your Family and Others
- Ready: Extreme Heat
- Ready: Thunderstorms and Lightning
- CDC: Steps for Healthy Swimming
- CDC: Drowning Prevention
- CDC: Drowning Facts
- CDC: Sunday Safety
- CDC: Skin Cancer Prevention
- CDC: Preventing Melanoma
- CDC: Extreme Heat
- CDC: Heat Stress
- CDC: Heat Stress and Older Adults
- NIAAA: Risky Drinking Can Put a Chill on Your Summer Fun
Local Hazards and Threats
To stay safe, you need to stay aware of the weather, the ocean, tide, and what is going on around you. Learn about local hazards you may face while visiting the beach.
Extreme heat is a period of high heat and humidity with temperatures above 90 degrees for at least two to three days. In extreme heat your body works extra hard to maintain a normal temperature, which can lead to death. Extreme heat is responsible for the highest number of annual deaths among all weather-related hazards.
Flooding is a temporary overflow of water onto land that is normally dry. Floods are the most common natural disaster in the United States. Failing to evacuate flooded areas or entering flood waters can lead to injury or death.
Hurricanes are dangerous and can cause major damage from storm surges, wind damage, rip currents, and flooding. They can happen along any U.S. coast or in any territory in the Atlantic or Pacific oceans. Storm surge historically is the leading cause of hurricane-related deaths in the United States. Atlantic Hurricane Season: June 1-November 30.
Rip currents are powerful, narrow channels of fast-moving water that are prevalent along the East, Gulf, and West coasts of the U.S., as well as along the shores of the Great Lakes. Moving at speeds of up to eight feet per second, rip currents can move faster than an Olympic swimmer. Panicked swimmers often try to counter a rip current by swimming straight back to shore-putting themselves at risk of drowning because of fatigue.