Water Safety on the Crystal Coast

two kids in a pool with swim caps and googles

Water Safety on the Crystal Coast

Water activities like swimming and boating are fun ways to cool off in the summer. Accidents can happen in a matter of seconds in a few inches of water, whether it is in buckets, bathtubs, pools, lakes, or the ocean. To ensure everyone is safe with multiple layers of protection, we’re sharing tips for water safety on the Crystal Coast.

little boy playing at the edge of the water on teh beach

Beach Safety Tips 

View the Bogue Banks Beach Safety videos below for an overview of the joint beach warning flag system used in Emerald Isle, Indian Beach, Pine Knoll Shores, and Atlantic Beach, and a video about rip currents and how to escape the grip of the rip. 

  • Rip Currents – The Towns of Emerald Isle, Indian Beach, Pine Knoll Shores, and Atlantic Beach want you to have a safe and enjoyable time at the Crystal Coast. In this video, representatives from each town fire department explain what rip currents are and how to get out if you find yourself in one.

  • Beach Warning Flags – The Towns of Emerald Isle, Indian Beach, Pine Knoll Shores, and Atlantic Beach observe a beach warning flag system that alerts beachgoers of potential ocean hazards at that time. Watch this video for more information. 

Water Safety Basic Precautions

  • Establish family rules. Teach kids to ask permission to go near the water and have them stay close enough to make eye contact with you when they’re in the water.
  • Use the buddy system and teach kids to always stay with a buddy and never play in the water alone.
  • Check weather forecasts, and keep an eye on changing conditions.
    • Water conducts electricity, including lightning, so stay away from water if you hear or see a storm.
  • Protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays by applying sunblock and reapplying often. Hats, sunglasses, and clothing provide added protection.
  • Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water. Adding lemon or instant coconut powder provides electrolytes beneficial to hydration.
  • Be aware that lightheadedness or nausea are common signs of dehydration and overheating.

Smart Swimming

  • Enroll kids in swimming lessons. Studies have shown that children ages 1 to 4 may be less likely to drown if they have had formal swimming instruction.
  • Never leave kids unattended. Supervising adults should be focused on the kids without distractions, such as reading, texting, or visiting with other adults.
  • Keep kids away from pool drains and suction fittings. These fixtures can create entrapments—when the suction force holds the body against the fitting or when an article of clothing, jewelry, hair, or limb gets caught in the drain.
  • Don’t let kids hyperventilate. Kids often breathe rapidly or deeply before breath-holding and underwater swimming contests. This can lead to passing out and drowning, known as a “shallow water blackout.”

Father talking to his young son about beach safety

Beach Best Practices

  • Direct kids to a designated, supervised area to swim: teach them to stay within sight of a lifeguard or supervising adult.
  • Check the water’s depth before you let kids jump in: Make sure hidden rocks, sharp shells, or other hazards aren’t present.
  • Check the surf. Watch for dangerous waves and signs of rip currents. Some examples are discolored water, choppy, foamy, debris-filled, or moving in a channel away from shore. Undertows and big waves can be deadly, even for strong swimmers. Get free of a current by swimming parallel to shore; once free, swim diagonally toward shore.
  • Teach kids the meanings of colored beach flags and to obey them. Coastal communities across the globe have adopted a flag-warning system developed by the United States Lifesaving Association in conjunction with the International Lifesaving Federation. If warning flags are up or if the surf looks rough, keep kids out of the water.

boating safety on the crystal coast, sunset and the wake of a boat

Boating Best Practices for Water Safety

  • Always equip kids with a life jacket that fits properly. The jacket should be snug enough that it won’t slip over the head, and the straps and buckles should be securely fastened. Inflatable toys and water wings, which can deflate or slip off, are not recommended as substitutes.
  • Teach kids to avoid propellers and not jump off the front of a moving watercraft.
  • Don’t overload a boat. If it turns over, teach kids to stay with the boat until help arrives.
  • Keep a radio on board to check weather reports.
  • Beware of boater’s fatigue. That’s when wind, noise, heat, and the vibration of the boat combine to wear down kids when they’re on the water.

Water safety at the pool, parents and daughter in a pool with a float

Vacationing at a Home with a Pool

  • Use touch supervision. With young children, ensure you are close enough to reach them at all times.
  • Teach kids to walk, not run, around pools or on docks.
  • Discourage unsafe horseplay. Pushing or holding others underwater is not recommended.

You can learn more about beach and ocean safety directly on the Emerald Isle website at: Emerald Isle Beach Safety InformationWe want your time on the Crystal Coast to be as safe as possible. What tips would you add to this article? 


water safety tips while you're on a coastal nc vacation