Here’s Why Is the Ocean More Dangerous During Local Summer At The Jersey Shore
Labor Day weekend on the Jersey Shore was a great one. Sunny skies, light breezes, backyard BBQs, pool parties, and a day off from work for some. But at our ocean beaches, it was tragic as multiple people lost their lives in the rough surf. Scores of others were rescued.
Labor Day kicks off WRAT’s annual celebration of Local Summer. The weather is still great for going to the beach and there are much fewer crowds. The problem is that the ocean is more dangerous than in June, July, and August.
The reason for this is the Atlantic hurricane season, which begins in June but usually gets ramped up by late August and early September, according to NPR.
According to Harry Harsin, the Director of Beach Patrol in Belmar, who stopped by the show, “the hurricanes can be very far off the Jersey Shore but still create very dangerous surf conditions”.
That’s what happened on Labor Day weekend.
“Think about it. People associate hurricanes with rain and wind but the weather is beautiful; sunny and warm. It looks like a great beach day. But, because there’s a hurricane hundred of miles out in the ocean, the ocean front is dangerous.”
“Adding to the problem is the fact that many of the local lifeguards are college students and in the middle of August and certainly by September they head back to school so our guard staff is much smaller.”
What’s the general public to do to stay safe during Local Summer?
“The first rule is never swim in the ocean if a lifeguard is not present. But we understand that people don’t do that. So the next rule is, don’t swim alone.”
As a frequent beach goer myself, “Swim with a buddy” is a popular phrase and thought when I’m heading down to the ocean for a dip after playing a few games of volleyball.
Mr. Harsin adds, “The ocean can be deceiving. In general, the most dangerous time tends to be when the tide is coming back in. As water rushes back to the ocean, lifeguards look for spots that are different colors than the rest of the water. That is a good indication that a rip current is in that area.
Usually, that water looks darker because the water is deeper there. As lifeguards, we’re trained to look for those spots. And we often try to keep people out of those areas by blowing that annoying whistle.”
If caught in a situation where you feel like your body is being pulled away from the shore quickly, Harsin advises, “Don’t panic. Don’t fight it. Let the current take you. As soon as it stops pulling, which it will swim to the left or the right.
Don’t try to return to the beach in the same spot because you’ll just get pushed back and you’ll tire out. When you’re a bit to the side of where you were, then you can get back to safety.”
Harry adds, “Don’t forget. If there’s no lifeguard, a surfer is your best friend.”
Hear our full morning show chat on why the ocean is more dangerous after Labor Day here: