Kathy's Chaos: Fighting the Rip

Brainwash your kids to respect the ocean, swim by a lifeguard

I sat on a Belmar beach a few days ago and watched the lifeguards perform three rescues during low tide. In past summers, I would see three rescues all summer. These all happened in one day. The day before that, I saw two.

Each time, I prayed for a positive outcome. Once I saw that the rescue was a success, I lectured my kids on ocean safety. Again. I feel like I am starting to sound like a broken record.

“See? This is why you should always swim by a lifeguard.”

“If you feel yourself getting pulled out, wave for help. Don’t freak out.”

"You can't wave for help if you're not swimming by a lifeguard."

“If you get stuck, swim parallel to the shore.”

I saw the confused look in their eyes at that phrase.

For people who are six, eight and 10, the phrase “parallel to the shore” can be confusing. So I explain it by saying, “Swim over towards the jetty not towards the beach.” I got some nods on that. It seems to make more sense to them.

My goal is to brainwash my kids enough now so that when they get to the age where I am not always with them and they are more often with their friends, my words of advice will be so ingrained in their brains that it will translate into their actions.  

I know that many young adults, such as the two people who died in the ocean on June 20 – the same day I saw the three successful rescues, feel a sense of invincibility. I felt the same way. Some of my friends reading this will remember well when we were 18 to 21 years old, we went swimming
in the ocean on unguarded beaches many times. Often at night. What were we thinking? We obviously weren’t. We were lucky that nothing tragic ever happened. We were just lucky. Others now, not so much.

It breaks my heart when I hear or read negative comments on the recent ocean deaths. I know there are many things that led to these tragedies, including the fact that our beaches are not free. Despite all of that, behind every single one of these deaths is a mother who is grieving the loss of her child. Before we judge the actions of someone most of us have never met, remember that behind the story there’s a mother who will never hug her child again.

I may be preaching to the choir, but if my column can stop one person from swimming on an unguarded beach, can make one person think twice before going out a little too far into the ocean, then I will have done my job as a writer.

Let us brainwash out kids that they simply must swim by a lifeguard. No exceptions.

For more information on water safety and rip currents, please
take a look at the National Weather Service's Rip Current Page.

Cathi June 27, 2012 at 11:06 AM
Great post Kathy. Respect for the Ocean is required. Personal responsibility is also required. You are absolutely right, swim near guards, never swim alone and don't take risks in the ocean. It really could be a matter of life or death.
Cheri Severino Diekhaus June 27, 2012 at 04:44 PM
Beautifully written! I too find myself preaching more often on ocean safety with my now grown sons!
Rochelle Ritacco June 28, 2012 at 01:34 PM
For a really great video that was made by LOCAL kids for kids (and anyone else) check out Break the Grip of The Rip - Rip Current PSA which is on Youtube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SIii2LvRR5k&feature=em-share_video_user
Kathy Yevchak June 28, 2012 at 08:13 PM
I love the you tube video! Great work!


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »