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Ocean safety, awareness a life preserver of knowledge

  • Published
  • By U.S. Navy Airman Jeri Moore
  • Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 25
The windy season is here again and with it comes potentially dangerous ocean conditions. With proper planning and a few safety precautions, there's no reason this season cannot remain fun and safe in 2010.

"The ocean does not discriminate against its victims," said Master Sgt. Jeff Oyer, 36th Wing safety office, "Develop a plan so that no everyone in the group is in the water at the same time. Be sure that the person still on shore knows how to notify responders."

Individuals unfamiliar with the water should go to a beach when a lifeguard is present. Tumon can be a safe bet since the lifeguards remain on duty until 6 p.m.

"I believe that one of the biggest contributing factors that leads to an emergency is the lack of understanding about the ocean and its dangers - for example, not knowing how to identify a rip current while swimming, knowing when you're caught in one and not knowing how to escape from the rip current," said Aviation Warfare Systems Operator 1st Class Jesse Peterson, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 25 search and rescue group.

Be educated on the ocean situation before getting in the water. From the high-tide to the low-tide is when swimmers want to be the most cautious. On the day of a planned activity, check the current oceanography report, by calling 211. Talk to the locals before getting in the water, they have a hometown benefit and know a great deal about the water, access the Guam tide charts on www.surf-forecast.com. The year's predicted tide charts can be accessed through Google as well.

Some of the clues to rip currents are a channel of churning, choppy water, an area having a notable difference in water color, a line of debris moving steadily seaward, or a break in the incoming wave pattern.

More information and safety tips concerning rip currents can be found at www.ripcurrents.noaa.gov, including how to get free from one and how to react if someone else gets caught in a rip tide.