As we enjoy watching the Army Corps of Engineers rebuild our jetties to make them more resilient, we must remember that it’s not for recreational purposes.
Every time I am sightseeing from the boardwalk, I see foolish people climbing, walking or otherwise traversing on the big new boulders. The jetties are in place to protect the shoreline, not to watch the sunset or hangout on. While one may think it may be a great set up for a selfie, it’s not worth it and is extremely dangerous.
The contractors, police and beach patrol are doing their best to keep people off the rocks. Yet before the beaches are open and guarded, and beach season technically starts, it is impossible to keep people off at all times. It’s up to us to be smart enough to not climb on these structures no matter how tempting it may be.
Falling because of an unstable or slippery rock can lead to serious injury, and can be even worse with the threat of an impending wave crashing onto you. This creates an avoidable risk for yourselves and others that may witness and try to help. Many times I have had to assist or rescue people from our old jetties. They are slippery, sharp, and dangerous. It can be very easy to slip on the rocks, as they are often covered with a layer of foam or seaweed. A slip on the rocks can lead to broken bones, head or other internal injuries.
While the rocks may look flat and secure, they haven’t been in place for a long time and should not be walked on for any reason. Resting or taking a nap on or near the rocks is also a bad idea; often the waves and tide shift rapidly, and can lead to being pulled into the water or slammed into the rocks.
Inexperienced swimmers who are not familiar with our beaches may incorrectly think that swimming near the jetties is safer than in the middle of the beach. It is more dangerous to swim along our jetties because of the risk of rip currents and unsteady water from the rock formations. Trying to enter and exit the water from the rocks is a recipe for disaster. The force of a wave crashing a person into the rocks can break bones and lead to drowning.
Learn to understand what to do in rip currents and never swim alone and without a lifeguard. Remember to Reach-Throw-Go and never put yourself in an avoidable unsafe situation. If you are uncomfortable with something it is sometimes better to call for help and stay in place to tell responders what is going on. Knowing your limits is important — you don’t want to become a victim when trying to help someone else.
If you’re out on the beach and you see someone out on the rocks, safely and politely let them know the dangers and risks, and if needed call the police to make sure it doesn’t become an unsafe situation.
Let’s enjoy the beauty of our shoreline while also keeping in mind that we need to respect it as well.
Lt. Sam Pinto is a career firefighter, paramedic, nationally certified fire instructor, and certified fire and life safety educator. He can be reached at SPinto@iaff287.org.