Outer Banks Beach Safety Tips

Beach safety and awareness is an important part of making sure your family understands potential hazards and learns the safety tips when vacationing here on the Outer Banks. We are a barrier island destination so winds and currents play a huge role in ocean conditions. It is important to be knowledgeable about the power of waves, rip currents, marine life, and what safety flags are and what they mean. Be safe, be alert and follow beach safety guidelines.

Know the ocean and respect its power. Learn more about Dare County's initiative to educate the community about beach hazards.

It's important to know how to identify Rip Currents from the shore and know what to do if you ever find yourself in one. Watch the video above.

Severe Weather

Most beach areas have light afternoon rain storms, which are nothing to worry about, but occasionally severe weather alerts are issued. It is important to pay attention to any weather warnings issued by local authorities, such as the lifeguard on duty or a weather app.

If you are alerted of a potential thunderstorm with the possibility of lightning, seek cover immediately. Make sure you are not in the water during a thunderstorm. The National Weather Service recommends waiting 30 minutes before returning to the beach after hearing the last crack of thunder.

Visit the Outer Banks Visitor Bureau beach safety page Visitor Bureau Safety Tips.

Dare County Emergency Management has designed a website called Love the Beach Respect the Ocean. They also have a Beach Hazards website with tips and videos. You can also sign up for OBX Alerts to receive warnings for dangerous weather events and notifications.

Beach Warning Flags

It is extremely important to follow and understand warning flags at the beach. Warning flags are not only for your safety but for the safety of the lifeguards on duty. Make sure to watch for flags, know what they stand for, and respect them. RED means do not swim due to heavy currents, undertows, and/or dangerous surf. YELLOW means exercising extreme caution. Even if you don't see large waves there could be rip currents and undertows that are very dangerous. When there is a  PURPLE flag, that indicates that there is marine life that could present concern. Always check with a lifeguard if you are unsure about conditions.

Sun Exposure

We love the sunshine and are sure you do too but prolonged exposure could lead to an unpleasant experience. Sun poisoning, heat stroke, and sunburn can all be prevented. Using sunscreen and reapplying regularly is vital to prevent sunburn. Bring a hat and T-shirt to wear or sit under an umbrella if you feel like you are getting too much sun but aren't ready to leave the beach. It is important to stay HYDRATED! Freeze water bottles the night before your beach trip, as they melt you will have ice-cold refreshing water throughout your beach day.

Marine Life

As much as we would like to ignore it, the ocean is home to an abundance of sea life and some can be harmful or even dangerous. Make sure you're doing your part to prevent any negative situations from happening. Try not to swim near fishing piers where bigger fish feed, avoid swimming during evening hours, avoid wearing bright colored garments and shiny jewelry that might look like fish scales when in the water, exercise caution when swimming on sandbars near steep drop-offs and most of all, stay aware of your surroundings while swimming in the ocean.