"Ocean Smart" Guide

Learn to Swim

Learning to swim is the best defense against drowning. Teach children to swim at an early age.

Swim Near a Lifeguard

binocularsDrowning is very rare in lifeguard-supervised areas of Fort Lauderdale Beach. Most water-related fatalities occur in unsupervised settings distant from lifeguard towers.

Lifeguard towers are staffed each day from 9:45 a.m. to dusk. Towers are located along the two-mile stretch of beach from 1014 Seabreeze Boulevard to 1200 N. Atlantic Boulevard.


Never Swim Alone

Always swim with a companion. At the very least, have someone onshore who can call for help.

rip-currentDon't Fight the Current

Rip currents are powerful currents of water moving away from shore. They can sweep even the strongest swimmer out to sea. If caught in a rip current, don’t fight it by trying to swim directly to shore. Instead, swim parallel to shore until you feel the current relax, then swim to shore. Most rip currents are narrow, and a short swim parallel to shore will bring you to safety.

You can learn more about rip currents at

Swim Sober

Alcohol is a major factor in drowning. Alcohol impairs swimming ability and good judgment.

Leash Your Board

Surfboards and body boards should be used only with a leash. Leashes are usually attached to the board and the ankle or wrist. With a leash, the user will not become separated from the floatation device.

Don't Float Where You Can't Swim

Often, non-swimmers dangerously use floatation devices to go offshore. If they fall off, they can quickly drown. The only exception is a person wearing a Coast Guard approved life jacket.

beachflagsLife Jackets = Boating Safety

Eighty percent of fatalities associated with boating accidents are from drowning. Most involve people who never expected to end up in the water. Children are at the greatest danger. Use life jackets.

Don't Dive Headfirst, Protect Your Neck

Diving headfirst into unknown water and striking the bottom can lead to serious, lifelong injuries, including paraplegia. Check for depth and obstructions before diving, and then go in feet first the first time. Use caution while bodysurfing, always extending a hand ahead of you.

Understand Beach Warning Flags

Flags posted on the beach and flying from lifeguard towers represent ocean hazards and surf conditions. Please remember that ocean conditions can change quickly. Check with the lifeguard on duty if you are unsure of safe conditions.


Green Flag
Low hazard with the possibility of larger waves and rip currents. Exercise normal care.


Yellow Flag
Medium hazard with moderate rip currents/surf conditions. Use extra care.


Red Flag
High hazard.Dangerous rip currents/surf conditions. Avoid entering the water.

 FlagRedSm FlagRedSm

Double-Red Flag
Water and/or beach closed to the public.


Purple Flag
Sea pests present (jellyfish, man-of-wars, and/or sea lice). This flag may be flown along with any of the other flags.

You can learn more about Florida's Beach Warning Flag Program at

For current beach conditions, visit the beach conditions web page or call the Beach Conditions Hotline anytime at 954-828-4597 (updated daily).