The Central Elgin Beach Patrol believes in promoting public awareness and aquatic safety. This page contains a brief outline and explanation of some processes that may occur while you are visiting the beach.
As well, the Beach Patrol has included some helpful safety tips to make your day at the beach more enjoyable.
Mishaps are a result of lack of safety knowledge.
The Central Elgin Beach Patrol recommends the following safety tips:
BEACH FLAG CODES
The Central Elgin Beach Patrol is ON DUTY whenever the flags are flying regardless of the flag colour, water or weather conditions.
conditions are good - safe to swim.
CAUTION conditions are poor - possible undertow, rip tides and/or lateral currents
Swimming is risky - swimmers should remain close to shore. (may also indicate the presence of higher than normal levels of bacteria - check with Beach Patrol)
DANGER conditions are poor - strong rip tides, undertows and lateral currents
Swimming is dangerous, swimmers are advised to swim at their own risk.
* conditions can refer to water or weather
As the water volume increases between the sandbars and the shore, the water flowing back into the lake from breaking waves forms a channel through the weakest part of a sandbar.
The current is weakest right near the shore, strongest at the “break-through” point, and quickly dissipates after passing the break into deeper water.
The strength of the rip currents varies depending on the cause. However, they can quickly move swimmers into dangerous situations.
The stronger the wind, the larger the surf and the greater the run-back, the stronger the rip current.
Even with this knowledge, swimmers may still find themselves in a dangerous situation. Therefore, it is best to swim on a guarded beach with a qualified, experienced Beach Patrol.
If at any time you find yourself caught in a rip current and are unable to free yourself, turn to face the shore, look in the direction of one of the Beach Patrol Lifeguard towers and wave your arms in the direction of the Beach Patrol Lifeguard. Stay calm and concentrate on keeping your head above the water.
The Central Elgin Beach Patrol is highly trained in Rip Current Rescues and they employ specialized techniques to bring you safely back to the shore.
Lateral currents move in a direction parallel to the shore. The current moves in the same direction as the force created by the waves and wind conditions.
These lateral currents can be particularly strong in Port Stanley and can very quickly carry swimmers out of the immediate area into deeper and far more dangerous waters.
Lateral currents are also formed near rip tide currents as the water flows into the rip and then lakeward.
Lateral currents often resemble the effects of a shallow fast moving river.
HOW WOULD SOMEONE CAUGHT IN A LATERAL CURRENT FREE THEMSELVES?
Try to regain your footing. Often the Port Stanley lateral currents are formed in shallow water, although they do exist in deeper waters offshore as well.
If you find yourself experiencing trouble in a lateral current and are unable to free yourself, wave your arms in the direction of the Beach Patrol Lifeguard. Stay calm and concentrate on keeping your head above the water.
The Central Elgin Beach Patrol is highly trained in Lateral Current Rescue and employ specialized techniques to bring you safely back to the shore.
An undertow is created when water on the beach attempting to return to the lake dislodges sand, causing swimmers standing near shore to lose their footing.
You may experience the sensation of your feet being pulled from under you, hence the term UNDERTOW. The waves moving toward the shore on the surface, combined with the lakeward movement of the bottom current, knocks swimmers over.
Once a swimmer has lost their footing in the loose sand, they can very quickly be pulled into deeper water.
HOW WOULD SOMEONE CAUGHT IN AN UNDERTOW CURRENT FREE THEMSELVES?
Many swimmers attempt to fight the current and swim directly back into it. This results in fatigue which is dangerous once the swimmer is carried into deeper water. Instead, once you have surfaced, regain your senses and try to swim back to the shore WITH the next set of waves.
If you find yourself experiencing trouble in an undertow and are unable to free yourself, turn to face the shore, look in the direction of one of the Beach Patrol Lifeguard towers and wave your arms in the direction of the Beach Patrol Lifeguard. Stay calm and concentrate on keeping your head above the water.
The Central Elgin Beach Patrol is highly trained in Undertow Rescues and employ specialized techniques to bring you safely back to the shore.
450 Sunset Drive
St. Thomas, ON N5R 5V1