WHAT IS THE TREATMENT FOR STINGRAYS?
Treatment for stings may include application of hot water (optimum temperature is 45°C (113°F), taking care not to cause burns, which can help ease pain by denaturing the complex venom protein. Pain normally lasts up to 48 hours, but is most severe in the first 30-60 minutes and may be accompanied by nausea, fatigue, spreading cramps, headaches, fever, and chills. A medical professional should assess all stingray injuries. The wound must be thoroughly cleaned, and surgical exploration is often required to remove any barb fragments remaining in the wound.
WHAT IS THE TREATMENT FOR JELLYFISH?
Vinegar (3-10% aqueous acetic acid) may be used as a common remedy to help with box jellyfish stings, but not the stings of the Portuguese Man o' War (which is not a true jellyfish, but a colony). For stings on or around the eyes, a towel dampened with vinegar may be used to dab around the eyes, with care taken to avoid the eyeballs. Salt water may be used as an alternative if vinegar is unavailable; and may be preferred over vinegar. Fresh water is not usually used if the sting occurs in salt water, as changes in tonicity can release additional venom. Rubbing wounds, or using alcohol, spirits, ammonia, or urine may have strongly negative effects as these can encourage the release of venom.
WHAT IS RED TIDE?
Red tide is a common name for a phenomenon known as an algal bloom (large concentrations of aquatic microorganisms) when it is caused by a few species of dinoflagellates and the bloom takes on a red or brown color. Red tides are events in which estuarine, marine, or fresh water algae accumulate rapidly in the water column, resulting in coloration of the surface water. It is usually found in coastal areas. These algae, known as phytoplankton, are single-celled protists, plant-like organisms that can form dense, visible patches near the water's surface. Certain species of phytoplankton and dinoflagellates, contain photosynthetic pigments that vary in color from green to brown to red.
WHAT IS A RIP CURRENT?
Most waves are formed by wind on the water. Sea waves usually result from storms, often hundreds of miles from shore. Waves are not all equal in size. Sometimes a group of larger waves comes ashore one after another. This is known as a "set" of waves. When waves break, water is pushed up the slope of the shore. Gravity pulls this water back toward the sea. If it converges in a narrow, river-like current moving away from shore, it forms what is known as a RIP CURRENT. Rip currents can be 50 feet to 50 yards or more wide. They can flow to a point just past the breaking surf (the surfline) or hundreds of yards offshore. Some 80% of rescues by lifeguards at America's surf beaches are due to persons being caught in rip currents. Rip currents may pull continuously, but they can suddenly appear or intensify after a set of waves, or when there is a breach in an offshore sandbar. Longshore currents, inshore holes, and other bottom conditions contribute to the formation of rip currents. Inshore holes and sandbars can also greatly increase the danger of spinal injury.
WHAT DO OPEN WATER LIFEGUARDS DO DURING THE WINTER?
Most open water lifeguard agencies provide year round services. Staffing levels may vary due to beach activity. Public has a pre-conception that they want to enjoy an aquatic experience any time of year. Lifeguards want to provide education and protection with available staff. The hiring, training, administration and maintaining lifesaving apparatus are critical during times of lower visitation. There is no off-season or winter for lifeguards in California.
DO LIFEGUARDS HAVE LAW ENFORCEMENT POWERS AND RESPONSIBILITIES?
Yes. Law enforcement powers vary from agency to agency. Depending on the lifeguard department, personnel enforce municipal, county, state and federal laws.
WHY DO LIFEGUARDS WORK AT NIGHT?
At many of our tourism driven beaches in California, particular those with restaurants and bars in close proximity to the ocean, see large amounts of beach goers after sunset. Many of our beaches also have fire pits available which increases beach visitation after sunset. Lifeguards working at night typically make preventative contacts to warn beach goers of the dangers of swimming at night.