Dos and Dont’s for Protecting Your Health and Your Beach’s Health

Safely enjoy your beach

Follow these “dos and don’ts” to have a good time while staying safe at the beach.


  • Swim safely
    • Learn to swim
    • Swim near a lifeguard.
    • Swim in an even line with the shore if you want to swim a long way.
    • Follow lifeguard directions.
    • If you are in trouble, call or wave for help.
    • Don’t swim if the beach is closed.
    • Learn more about the risks to your health.
  • Be sun safe
    • Check the UV Index
    • Use sunscreen with SPF 15.
    • Wear a floppy hat, sunglasses, and a shirt
    • Avoid the strongest sun from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
    • Learn more on the SunWise site
  • Drink plenty of water and avoid overheating.
  • Watch for trash and other signs of pollution.
  • Report any dangers you see to lifeguards or other beach workers.
  • Teach others how to stay safe at the beach.


  • Swim alone.
  • Swim after a heavy rain.
  • Dive into water you don’t know — remember “first time, feet first.”
  • Swim near trash.
  • Swim near pollution sources such as pipes, outfalls and runoff ditches.
  • Bring glass containers at the beach — broken glass and bare feet don’t mix.
  • Light beach fires except where signs say they are allowed.
  • Walk on the edge of coastal bluffs; they can collapse and hurt you.
  • Turn your back to the ocean — you never know when a large wave is coming.
  • Deliberately get a tan.
  • Go to a tanning parlor before heading to the beach.

Protect the beach

Protecting beaches isn’t just something you do at the beach. In fact, some of the most important things you can do are at home.

At home

  • Regularly maintain your septic system if you have one.
  • Use natural substances like compost to fertilize gardens and lawns. If you must use fertilizers or pesticides, read the label and use as little as possible.
  • Throw trash in proper containers; don’t leave it on the ground because it can be swept up by runoff and carried to the beach.
  • Don’t throw motor oil in storm drains; recycle it at your local service shop

At the beach

  • Use walkovers instead of walking across the sensitive dunes; this will help reduce erosion.
  • Reduce, reuse and recycle the things you take to the beach – don’t leave them there
  • Throw away your trash and pet waste — use public trash containers at the beach or take it home with you.
  • Use public restrooms.
  • Pick up trash.
  • Cut the rings off plastic six-pack holders so that animals (like fish, turtles or seals) can’t get tangled in them — leave no solid plastic loops.
  • Join local beach, river or stream clean ups.
  • Dispose of boat sewage in onshore sanitary facilities instead of dumping it into the water.
  • Don’t disturb wildlife and plants – you’re visiting their home.

Accessed May 27, 2014 at

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