Safety First!

If you’ve ever gone “coastal,” you know that under the sunny skies and below the foamy waves, there are some natural dangers in the oceans and nearby waterways.  Take for example the recent killing of a young man in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina by an alligator. It’s a rare occurrence, but this victim made a very tragic choice to look for his frisbee in a pond, even though signs are always in these areas to keep out.  Forget the darn frisbee, avoid the gator-infested pond – and keep your small (or large) dog away from it – puh-lease!

Meet “Eddie” – a new neighbor of ours down South

With warmer water temperatures come those odd-looking sea creatures we know as jellyfish.  One jellyfish, which was actually a good size one, wrapped its tentacles around a young family member’s leg years ago.  She almost had to go to the hospital, but was treated quickly and was left with some nasty scars for a long time.  Some creatures just can’t be avoided.

(Photo by Tim Mossholder on

Sharks are hunting and breeding closer to the shoreline, and everyone knows what happened in “Jaws.” Yikes!  A story by reporter Jennifer Waugh of WJXT-TV in Jacksonville, Florida, suggested what colors to wear and not wear when in the ocean that will make one less “attractive” to sharks.

Wait, what?

Wetsuits have traditionally been black or dark gray, but maybe there’s some validity in this color choice story.  First of all, DO NOT WEAR YELLOW!  And no bright fingernail or toenail polish! And NO flashy jewelry (which you should not wear anyway because you’ll just lose it in the ocean).

(Photo by sergio souza on

The color of choice to keep them away is Basic Black. The secret is out for Instant shark repellent (kind of)?

I was given the chance to take SCUBA lessons, and passed that opportunity for just a snorkel and fins when in The Cayman Islands.  Amazing sights, but going too deep for the best views never appealed to me.  I did play with the stingrays which was super fun, and would definitely do it again.

Don’t get me wrong.  I was a lifeguard and Water Safety Instructor for years. I  used to enjoy the ocean – all the time. Body surfing, exploring sandbars and minnows, boogie boarding, looking for dolphins frolicking behind a fishing boat, you name it, we spent hours with our kids in the Atlantic surf.  Still, I seem to be apprehensive lately about the ocean.  Nothing bad ever happened personally, but I feel my days in the ocean are sadly dwindling.  

Self-preservation? Nervousness? Just plain wimpy? Highly likely!

Call me an “old biddy,” (because I guess I am), but the sanctity and safety of a pool seems very attractive these days.  The dark stripe at the bottom of the pool gives me the guidance I need for staying straight in a lane. The flags near each end and crosses at each endwall provide that same stability.

My friend Kelly and I at the Empire Senior Games in 2021 at SUNY-Cortland, having a blast!

What was very impressive to witness at a recent coastal pool workout were the dozen-plus local firefighters who spent a hot Sunday morning, dressed in full rescue gear (boots, helmets and oxygen tanks too), and jumped in the pool for a full day of training. The combined weight of this attire, when wet, was well over 100 pounds.  Put that on a guy who is skin, bones, and muscle, thus, who likely doesn’t swim or float very well, and you’ve got a challenging situation. But  – they all climbed on a starting block, jumped in, and performed a grueling swim from the deep end to the shallow end. 


Impressive, but necessary when you are a firefighter in a coastal community.  Kudos to these First Responders.

The guy on the upper right – with an extra 100 lbs, yikes!!

It saddens me to think there is a lifeguard shortage going on throughout the country.  But, I DO understand why.  A lifeguarding job was always thought of as a “glamorous” job – when it really isn’t (thanks to “Baywatch”, David Hasselhoff and Pamela Anderson, ugh!).  It’s a critical position where many of these recently trained teenagers are actual first responders, and in this day and age, many of our teenagers and young adults seem too vulnerable or nervous about anything, let alone saving a drowning victim, performing CPR, or simply having the maturity to tolerate children who won’t obey the rules.  Try rationalizing with a drunk adult at the beach when you’re 18. Not fun.

So, friends, be safe out there – no matter what you’re doing in or near the water. In the meantime, I’ll put on my brave face and work on not being too timid in my older age, and attempt to embrace all that nature’s lakes and oceans – and man-made pools – have to offer.

Author: sinkorswim204

I'm a “veteran” Broadcast producer as well as a former high school and collegiate swimmer who still loves to write. I hope to inspire others to stay afloat in these often turbulent waters while enjoying some new challenges in my middle age.

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