Is It Safe To Swim In Florida Beaches? [Tips for Staying Safe]

Florida, also known as the Sunshine State because of its inviting weather, draws locals and foreigners to its beautiful coastlines. Therefore, spending the day at one of the many beaches in Florida is the norm. However, to be better prepared, knowing some tips for staying safe when swimming at Florida beaches is good.

Beaches in Florida are safe to swim in unless otherwise stated. Check the signages and notice boards for warnings indicating if the beach you intend to swim at is unsafe. A beach could be unsafe for various reasons, such as bacteria spills, shark sightings, lightning, and riptides. 

A few more factors should also be considered when swimming at the beach in Florida. Factors such as the tide, wind, sun, and individual swimming. 

Knowing the rules of the beaches and whether there are lifeguards on duty is also advisable. So let’s look at how to stay safe while swimming in Florida. 

Is It Safe To Swim At Beaches In Florida?

Before entering the water, when you arrive at the beach, there are a few things to remember. First, always listen for alarms, sirens, and whistles. These will sound when there is a safety risk and you must exit the water immediately.

Some beaches will have flags indicating shark sightings, weather warnings, and polluted areas you cannot swim in. However, beaches issued with no-swim advisories for various reasons still allow beachgoers to use the beach.

When going to a beach with a no-swim advisory warning, beachgoers may still be allowed on the sand. In addition, beachgoers can still enjoy long walks on these beaches. Tanning, playing volleyball, and picnicking are also allowed. 

However, avoiding contact with the water would be best until the no-swim advisory is lifted and the water is cleared to swim in again.

Personal safety precautions include knowing where lifeguards are situated and your swimming capabilities. In addition, check the weather forecast and carry sunblock, water, a hat, and an umbrella to protect yourself from the sun. It is also advisable to keep a first-aid kit in case of injury.

Are The Polluted Beaches In Florida Safe To Swim At?

The Florida Health Department routinely conducts water quality tests throughout the year at Florida beaches. The Florida Health Department will spread alert reports should the water samples contain high bacteria levels to warn people not to swim.

Throughout the year, various beaches in different parts of Florida are closed off due to harmful bacteria. Most of the pollution in the water is due to sewage spills and farm animal waste, which is full of harmful pathogens and highly toxic, especially to the elderly and those with weak immune systems.

Disease, infections, and rashes are some side effects of exposure to these toxins. Therefore, it is advisable to research the water bacteria levels of the beach you intend on swimming at before getting into the water should have an open wound or even a fresh piercing or tattoo.

Further resampling of the contaminated beach water will determine whether the water is safe to swim in. 

A notification of the reopening of beaches will be posted should the results be approved by The Florida Health Department and the water is considered safe again. 

Do Beaches In Florida Have Sharks Swimming Near The Shore? 

Sharks generally do not eat humans and only attack if feeling threatened or out of curiosity. So it is unlikely you will be attacked by a shark while swimming at a beach in Florida, but not impossible. 

The International Shark Attack File recorded that the average annual number of shark attacks in Florida is 31. 

Most of these attacks were not fatal attacks. Instead, they were primarily attacks on surfers and other individuals participating in water sports with boards. 

These attacks are due to the surfers being further in the ocean than the usual beachgoers and the shark zone. 

The attacks are unprovoked and usually a case of mistaken identity by the shark as they are attracted to thrashing and splashing. 

Being Stung At One Of The Beaches In Florida

Although not life-threatening, being stung by a jellyfish, sea butterfly, or stingray can be highly unpleasant and could cause a damper to the beach day you envisioned. 

It is worthwhile to look out for these stinging sea creatures while in the water.

A jellyfish sting will cause instant discomfort and pain, leaving you with inflamed marks on your skin. Sea butterflies are snail-like creatures that will stick to your skin, and their little bites will leave you with red bumps and can be compared to the pain experienced by a bee sting. 

Stingrays will swim on the ocean floor. If they trod on, they would thrust their tail and sting you. Stung by a stingray is extremely painful and could lead to fainting, nausea, and weakness.

In any of these scenarios, the best thing to do would be to find the nearest lifeguard and ask for assistance. Lifeguards on duty will have a first aid kit with ointment and creams to help ease the pain.

Avoid Rip Tides While Swimming At The Beaches In Florida

Riptides account for up to 80% of lifeguard rescues at Florida beaches and claim an average of 100 lives per year in Florida. Riptides are most frequent on windy days, sweeping swimmers further from shore. 

The force of the tide will cause even the strongest swimmers to drown while trying to swim against the current.

Rip tides can be identified by an area of waves that are not breaking like the regular wave patterns. Instead, there may be a section in the water with a different color or a line of foam floating on the surface, debris or seaweed drifting further out to sea and not toward the shore.

Staying Safe At The Beach In Florida During A Thunderstorm

Florida is vulnerable to extreme weather conditions due to its geographic location. Reports have shown up to ninety days of thunderstorms in one year in some regions of Florida. 

With the thunderstorms comes the lightning, with June through August being the deadliest months.

The National Weather Service has reported an average of five deaths yearly from lightning strikes, with construction workers being the primary victims. 

However, being outside, especially when wet or in the ocean, will put you at an even greater risk of being struck by lightning during a thunderstorm.

Lifeguards often blow a whistle to warn beachgoers to seek some enclosed shelter. In addition, some Florida beaches have alarms and sirens that will sound to warn of poor weather conditions. 

Final Word

Florida beaches are safe if you take the necessary precautions. Always check the weather forecast, read the signages and notice boards, and ensure you know where the lifeguards are. 

By remembering to stay hydrated, protect yourself from the sun, and know your swimming capabilities, you will surely enjoy your day at the beach. 

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