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Heads-Up


The ocean is a wild and beautiful place; that is part of the attraction to being in it.  A little "water-sense" goes a long way towards making our beach experiences pleasurable.  In this section; we'll bring-up things we might not always think about but need to be aware of when enjoying the ocean.


On July 27, 2014; lightning struck at Venice Beach taking the life of one swimmer and injuring 14 others.  Many of us heard the thunder but honestly didn't appreciate the danger at hand.  Lighting can strike up to 10 miles away from where it originates.  If you hear thunder, get out of the water and seek shelter until the storm has passed and the thunder has stopped...  News Service Photo

"If everyone else jumped off a bridge would you jump too?"  Climbing beach cliffs at anytime is risky; climbing steep, rough beach terrain with zero protection is asking for trouble.  Remember:  "Predictable is Preventable"...

Here is a nice graphic reminder to always swim parallel to the shore to escape a rip before trying to swim in...

We surf during the day but at night there are often serious fisherman on the beach with heavy tackle fishing for leopard sharks and sometimes they lose their gear in the surf.  Be vigilant for fishing line in the sand and in the water, there are often dangerous hooks attached.

Stand-up paddle blades are sharp.  This rider got it right between the toes and excised a good chunk of meat.  Be careful with your paddles and always try to have a great pedicure in case the Lifeguards need to bandage you up...

That's a Dewey Weber "hatchet" fin, so named for it's shape that resembles a hatchet.  Not only does it resemble a hatchet, it works like one, too.  That cut is through a 4mm wetsuit.  Lucky for the surfer wearing the suit, the suit took the brunt of the damage.  Once again, if you want to minimize the risk of being seriously injured by your fin, get yourself a flexible fin like the ones made by "Proteck"...

During February 2012; Big Mike here tried paddling-out on his Stand-Up board through some overhead waves.  Mike got caught by some set waves and ended up taking a shot to the head from his 12' board.  We know how profusely head wounds bleed and how bad they look when we come out of the water.  Lifeguard Charlie said Mike was quite a sight; all Mike had to say was: "...nothin' I can't fix with my staple gun"!

No matter how careful we are, eventually we all end up in the situation pictured here.  Short boards can duck-dive but what to do with a long board?  Turning turtle and hanging underneath worked pretty well with the heavier boards, but doing anything that puts a lightweight epoxy board perpendicular to the wave often ends up breaking the board.  One technique is to spin the board parallel to the wave as you dive under to try and avoid that heavy lip from hitting your board dead center...

No serious damage was done; but this was a good reminder that even the softest of boards can cause injuries...

Spring time at the beach.  We don't get Jelly Fish every year, but we have seen several already this Spring so beware...

Dropping-in. Regardless of "right-of-way" issues; remember when you are riding a surfboard that they are very hard and sharp and that our bodies are very soft and easily hurt.  No wave is worth hurting a fellow surfer...   Thanks to Randy Ruby for the photo.

McBraveheart is all eyes as she checks out this new Proteck fin.  Proteck fins are flexible and have a soft rubber edge instead of knife sharp fiberglass or carbon fiber.  You can still hurt yourself, but not as easily as the surfer below did...

This is a brand new epoxy board with a significant ding in the tail.  The rider of the board was "duck diving" under a wave when the board got loose, shot up and hit him in the head while he was under water...

This is the rider of the above board.  In the head vs. board contest he lucked out but in the fin vs. face he was lucky to only get 18 stiches. Fiberglass fins are very hard and very sharp; be aware of the risks.  You can minimize the risk of fin cuts by using "Proteck" flexible fins, see a sample picture above and below...

This surfer was wearing a camera around his neck on a lanyard.  While paddling into a wave the paddle knocked the camera into the rider's head several times (but he got the wave). The lesson is don't wear loose things around your neck of any type while you are in the water and be careful with those paddles (see below)...

David here is displaying a dandy black-eye he recieved afer being hit by the handle of his paddle.  David is an excellent stand-up paddler and surfer and reminds us that the paddle is one more hard object to deal with in the water so do your best to keep it away from your face...

A Stingray is a flat, bottom-feeding fish that lives and breeds in our warm shallow waters from June through September. They prefer locations with sandy bottoms like we have in the Torrance and RAT Beach areas. They lay flat on the bottom, sometimes hidden in the sand, where they feed on small crustaceans and other shellfish.

Stingrays are not normally an aggressive fish, but they will defend themselves if they feel that they are threatened, such as being stepped on. Stingrays have a stinger in their tails that they use to sting their attacker, usually in the ankle or foot. The stinger is covered in a protein (like a bee sting) which adds to the pain of the sting.

Just like when you go visiting friends it's always better to let them know that you are coming. The best way to do this with stingrays is to do what we like to call the “Stingray Shuffle”.   By shuffling (or sliding) your feet slowly through the sand, you will warn the stingrays to your presence and to move out of your way.   It is the best way to prevent a sting, so remember to do the Stingray Shuffle from the time your toes get wet until you leave the water.

Since the protein on the stinger is very similar to that of a bee sting, some people (like those allergic to bee stings) may develop a severe allergic reaction and must seek immediate medical assistance. For most others, if you get stung, the basic first-aid treatment is to soak the area in hot water to help breakdown the toxins and will help relieve the pain. It is always a good idea to see a doctor after receiving immediate care.

Thanks to the Junior Life Guard Program for this information


This four day old bruise was the result of being hit by a surfboard fin.  The day it happened, this surfer recalled being hit but kept surfing.  When she got out she looked down and thought she had a softball in the leg of her wetsuit; instead it was a huge lump on her leg.  Being a nurse; she went straight to the hospital for examination to ensure no clots were about to cause more serious problems.  Ice packs brought the swelling down and time will heal the nasty bruise...

This is a "Proteck" fin and yes; it is flexible.  The lifeguards use them on their rescue boards to enhance safety.  You can use them to avoid fin injuries to yourself and others.  The edges are rubber and the main fin is flexible.  They are available in all sorts of designs and levels of "stiffness"; you can search Proteck on the web for a fin that will work for your board...

Hypothermia can be deadly.  Our bodies operate at 98.6 and begin to suffer the effects of hypothermia after losing only a few degrees of core temperature.  When the water is 58 degrees; like it is here in this March photo; that's a 40 degree difference between what our bodies need to be and what we are immersed in.  Google hypothermia and be aware of the symptoms...

Always swim in front of a manned lifeguard tower.  Not only is someone watching you; you have the benefit of immediate response of additional emergency personnel if necessary.  The new, wide ramp at TORR with the turn-around pad on the sand was made for situations just like this one...

Be aware of fisherman on the beach and where their lines are; there are always sharp hooks on the end.  Surfers look for rip tides and sandbars for good waves. Fishermen look for rip tides and sandbars because they know fish hang there.  As a result, surfers and fisherman often end up sharing the same stretch of beach.  Be vigilant...

This is what run-off looks like on rainy days.  The bad news is that almost everything that was on the streets ends up in the ocean.  The good news is that the sand that is washed out often makes really nice sand bars for surfing.  Over the years officials have made great progress in minimizing trash washing into the ocean by installing      clarifiers up-stream that catch most of the big chunks and small animals...

If folks are concerned about the affects of run-off, they can check conditions at:    http://www.watchthewater.org/

Fog.  It is possible to get lost in the fog while surfing; even more so if we are off-shore on a paddle board or stand-up board.  Be aware of how quickly fog can move in.  Smart paddlers will have a compass with them and know how to use it.