The Hazards of the Beach

It may be Shark Week, but that won’t stop people from flocking to Florida’s beaches! From Clearwater to Miami, Florida has dozens of beaches with soft sand, surf-able waves, and endless sunshine. With these characteristics, it’s easy to think that a Florida beach is practically paradise. But if you’re planning on launching yourself into a day filled with tanning and splashing, consider these dangers first.


According to the Center for Disease Control, 43% of drowning deaths occur in natural waters, including oceans. While someone can drown anywhere, the ocean presents a unique set of risks, like heavy waves and currents. Waves can knock people over or force them underwater, while currents can carry swimmers farther out into the ocean. Even for strong swimmers, the unexpected nature of the ocean can be dangerous. Aside from drowning, ocean-related injuries can include broken bones, head trauma, or spinal injuries.

To prevent drowning deaths in the ocean, inexperienced swimmers should stay out of the water, or wear a lifejacket. In the water, swimmers should find a fixed location, like a lifeguard’s station or a bright umbrella. This way, they can return to the same spot if the current pushes them farther down the beach. Similarly, always stay within sight of a lifeguard.

In the ocean, rip currents present a unique danger. If you are caught in a rip current, stay calm! Panicking or thrashing will only deplete energy faster. Swim parallel to the shore, rather than against the current, or tread water and yell for help. If someone else is caught, throw them a lifejacket, cooler, or other inflatable object. But avoid going in the water yourself, because you could get caught in the same current.

Weather Conditions

Nature is often unpredictable, but a public beach will usually do their best to warn visitors about any dangers. They do this using a flag system, with various colors indicating different hazards or threat levels.

  • Double red: the water is closed
  • Single red: there is a high hazard, like high surf or strong currents
  • Yellow: there is a medium hazard
  • Green: there is a low hazard
  • Purple: dangerous marine life is in the area

Know what the different flags mean, and do not enter the water if conditions are dangerous. If the weather begins to suddenly change, get out of the water and seek indoor shelter, if possible.

Marine Life

You might think of the Jaws theme song every time you go to the beach, but shark attacks are very rare. However, there are plenty of other marine creatures that can cause painful injuries, like jellyfish, sea urchins, stingrays, and lionfish.

If you see a dangerous animal in the water, get out of the water as quickly as possible. Alert a lifeguard or others around you. Do not approach or touch any animals, even if they are dead.

Still worrying about a shark attack? Avoid swimming if you have any open wounds. Stay away from sandbars or schools of fish.


Since so many factors cannot be controlled or foreseen, liability for injuries at a public beach can be difficult to determine. However, if conditions were known but not announced, there is a chance that any injuries or deaths could be considered foreseeable. Additionally, if injuries are caused by the negligence or reckless actions of a fellow beachgoer — an intoxicated boater, for example — then that individual could potentially be liable.

Hopefully, though, liability and injuries are not something you have to think about during your next beach trip! Be smart, stay aware, and enjoy your day!


The attorneys at Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes represent those involved in car accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and other types of personal injury matters. Our firm is one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Tampa Bay. There are no attorneys’ fees or costs unless we prevail for you. Call our office 24 hours a day at 727-796-8282 or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.


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