Beach and Marsh Safety

Stay off sand dunes and do not pick the vegetation or plants that grow on them. They are protected by law.

Tides, currents and water depth in estuaries, harbors, and bays vary a great deal depending on tide stage. Therefore, always carry—and know how to use—a tide table and practice tide safety. There are normally two high tides and two low tides each day that usually occur 12 hours and 24 minutes apart.

Rocks and Jetties

Rocks and Jetties

Rocks and jetties are scattered around the area beaches to prevent erosion. During high tide they may be partially or completely covered and exposed during low tides. They are generally covered with algae, which makes them very slippery. Often they are covered in barnacles or oysters that will shred your skin if you were to fall. Oysters and barnacles carry bacteria which will cause the cut to get infected if it is not properly cleaned and disinfected.

Pluff Mud

Pluff mud is prevalent in salt marshes and has a very characteristic bouquet, which smells like rotten eggs. The smell is actually a combination of salt water, chlorophyll from the marsh grass, bacteria, and decaying plants and animals. The mud can be dry and solid at low tide, but often it is not. Take caution because you can sink into the mud and easily get stuck. Mud has usually settled over oyster beds, which can cause severe lacerations and infections. Always use the buddy system and wear solid well secured shoes around marshy areas.

Sun Safety

Too much exposure to the sun’s harmful rays can do serious damage to your body. Sun safety should include methods of sun protection (which will help prevent skin cancers and premature aging) and methods of skin cancer detection. The combination will help slow the epidemic of skin cancers, particularly melanoma. Spending just a short time in the sun can result in sunburn, heat exhaustion or heat stroke—which in some cases can cause illness, or even death. Remember to protect yourself and stay hydrated and protect your eyes.

Rip Currents

Rip currents are strong currents running out to sea that can easily take you away from shore. They are responsible for over 100 drownings each year in the United States. Rip currents are particularly powerful in larger surf, but can also be found around river mouths, estuaries and man-made structures like piers and jetties. Become aware of rip current safety and know how to identify and get out of trouble.

If caught in a rip current: REMEMBER—try not to panic. Swim out of the current in a direction following the shoreline. When out of the current, swim at an angle towards the shore.


Summer is peak season for lightning strikes in America. Outdoors is the most dangerous place to be during a lightning storm. Most people understand that electrical storms are potentially dangerous, but many people underestimate how deadly lightning can be. If you are outside, it is important to pay attention to the weather. Storms can move quickly and you should get out of the water and find shelter immediately. If there is no shelter seek the lowest point possible. If someone is struck, get medical attention as quickly as possible. Administer first aid and/or CPR if you are trained and check for burns in two places.


Summer heat and humidity can increase your body’s need for liquid. Dehydration can lead to heat exhaustion and heat stroke, both of which can lead to serious health problems. Now is a good time to think about preventing heat-related ailments by keeping your body properly hydrated.

Follow these basic guidelines for preventing dehydration:

  • Drink liquids before, during and after work and exercise
  • Be sensitive to your thirst and prepared to take a sip every 15-20 minutes
  • Your body absorbs cool water more quickly, drink it if you have the choice

Additional Resources