An Open Letter To Residents, Visitors

Another preventable death in the Atlantic Ocean was sadly reported this week. This time a 52-year-old Maryland man died while in the water with his son.

They both reportedly were caught in a rip current less than an hour after the lifeguards had called it a day. The teenage son was able to make it to shore, but emergency responders were unable to save his father.

These heartbreaking tragedies bother everyone, and the only solace in this news is its the first tragedy in the ocean this year. There were a couple close calls on the drowning front this summer, but the news reports did not turn grave during the Ocean City Beach Patrol’s official coverage season until Monday.

The beach patrol’s message that people should keep their feet in the sand until the guard is in the stand has reached a lot of people over the years. Unfortunately, the sad truth is not everyone listens or thinks it should apply to them. This week’s death was another sad reminder of that fact. That’s why the patrol’s devotion to education and prevention is so critical.

It’s important for everyone to remember this is a life-and-death issue. The ocean deserves your respect. As a matter of fact, it commands it. Never underestimate the power of the ocean. Beware of what it’s capable of and understand what you may encounter.

After this weekend, there will be no lifeguard stands on the beach. A roaming ATV will patrol the beach, but that should not give anyone a heightened sense of safety. It’s more reactive than preventive for obvious reasons.

If you swim this weekend, be sure to do it near a lifeguard stand and take a minute to learn what the conditions are on that given day. This time of year current runs high and waves are stronger than in the summer. It’s no place for a novice or the uneducated. Be smart and swim in front of a lifeguard stand.

In the weeks ahead, the weather will remain warm on most days, helping keep the ocean temperature at a bearable level. You will be tempted to go in the water, although you should not.

If you insist on heading into the ocean, here’s a few suggestions to keep in mind that might just save your life:

— Never go in the water by yourself and make sure there are other swimmers or even surfers around in case of trouble.

— Stay out of the water at night.

— Never go in the ocean if you do not know how to swim.

— If you are caught in a rip current, swim parallel to shore and do not panic.

Ocean deaths are almost always preventable. This week’s tragedy should have never occurred. It happened as a result of poor judgment and a false sense of security fueled by overconfidence. It’s terribly sad and we prefer not to publish stories about people dying, particularly when it’s avoidable.

Do your part – be smart and be in touch with your own mortality. We do not want to be writing about you.