As parents from all parts of the world descend on the beaches of California for vacation it is in your best interest to learn water safety. I offer up a word of warning, the Pacific Ocean is a place of beauty but, the surf does create some extremely dangerous conditions to wade in. [scroll to the bottom for water safety links]
Surfing one of my favorite spots in Encinitas; a super cute town with shops and beautiful beaches, I had the notion to get out of the water and walk North a bit to surf another peak. I paddle out and notice a really strong rip current pulling sand to the surface of the ocean about 24-30 yards out. When there is sand at the water surface its due to a very strong rip current of ocean water. The rip pulls water out to sea in a narrow (but, sometimes can be wide) straight line vertical to the horizon. I was sitting just outside the first break of waves and my inner spirit ask me to look to the shore, I did and just where I got the notion to paddle out about 5 minutes earlier were two small children caught in the rip getting pulled out to sea. They were struggling to keep their head above water and while this was no easy task they were doing their best at it. [My money’s on it, their parents had placed them in swim classes and at that moment was paying off in BIG dividedness.]
This is when time stood still: I glanced at the lifeguard on his walki talki and grabbing his buoy: I was paddling to the boy to get him before he went under: looking at the sister to assess how far she was from her brother: the moments with movement froze. The lifeguard was lightning fast into the water, quick fly strokes brought him to the boy at the same time as me, I pulled back just a bit and kept my eye on the sister and now mother coming out to sea and directly into the rip. The lifeguard grabbed up both children and talked calmly to them as he rapped his buoy around their chests and pulled them onto land.
I have been in the ocean since before I could walk, I have come upon this many a summer. My brother was a lifeguard for 11yrs, I never was but, thanks to my faith in God and my daily prayer that the Lord places me where I need to be when I need to be there, I have rested many a small child across my board and paddled them on to dry land.
Today the Lord called in a notion, I thought it was weird that I would leave the spot I was surfing only to walk a bit up to surf another spot; with what turned out to be really lame waves. I got stuck sitting there wondering why in the world I did that. Then when I was paddling over to the boy, saw the fear and terror in his eyes, watched him gulp water in his efforts to breathe, I knew then why I was there. There was no question in my mind the spirit called and I answered.
The experience was so hard and gut wrenching, I had to go home. The drive home I cried. I will never forget that little boy and how close he was to death.
Here are some ocean safety links and videos on youtube. So you can familiarize yourself with rip currents-"undertows" and other ocean hazards before you step on the beach.
Don't get sucked in by the rip... youtubehttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-hCZuYzNujI
-Dena Austin Miller