Many areas of Rhode Island's shoreline can be hazardous. Twice a day, high tide floods the shoreline with over 3 feet of water. Consult tide tables before exploring rocky beaches and tide pools. Check marine weather forecasts and stay on trails and paths. Steep or eroding bluffs and cliffs, rocky shores slippery with sea spray, rain, or ice, dilapidated piers, and treacherous coastal waters are dangerous. During the winter, Rhode Island's coastal waters can be so cold that they may cause hypothermia in anyone exposed for more than a few minutes. Dangerous, swift currents can be hazardous to boaters or swimmers, particularly near breachways or inlets. A number of beaches and coastal areas do not have lifeguards. The following tips can help you stay safe while enjoying Rhode Island's shoreline:
- Always accompany children into the water, even if it is shallow.
- When exploring rocky shores, avoid slippery rocks that are partially covered by algae in the warmer months and by ice during the winter season.
- Beware of broken glass on the shore. Safely dispose of any sharp fragments.
- Keep away from surf-casting fishermen. Do not attempt to pull out fishhooks from the skin, but seek medical attention immediately.
- Stay away from storm-water and sewage outfalls. Unsanitary and toxic wastes are health hazards.
- Do not shellfish in waters posted as unsafe for shellfishing. RIDEM may change postings as they monitor during the year.
- Boaters: Watch your wake. Always have children and non-swimmers wear personal flotation devices. All vessels, rowboats, and canoes must carry one approved life preserver for each person on board.
- Be especially careful when operating boats in any area where swimmers or divers may be present. Divers are easily recognized by the required red flag with a white diagonal slash that marks the approximate center of their activities. Leave a 50-foot radius around a dive flag to insure the safety of the divers below the surface.
- All vessels, if operated after sunset and before sunrise, are required to have lights.
- Swim only near lifeguards. Watch out for rip currents, which are strong but narrow seaward flows. If you get caught in one, don't panic; swim parallel to the shore until you get out of the current, then return to the shore. If you can't escape the current, call or wave for help.
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