As people head to the beach each summer season, many worry about the threat of a shark attack. While the chance of a shark attack is relatively small, the consequences can be severe. The American Red Cross recommends taking steps to minimize your risk while enjoying the ocean during the hot summer months.
1. Safety in numbers. Stay in a group. Sharks are more likely to attack a solitary person than a group.
2. Beware of the dark. Avoid being in the water at night, dawn or dusk, when sharks are most active and not easily seen.
3. Out for blood: Do not enter the water if bleeding from an open wound or if menstruating—sharks are attracted to blood and their ability to detect blood is very keen.
4. Leave the bling behind. Do not wear shiny jewelry, because the reflected light resembles fish scales.
5. Avoid the feeding frenzy. Do not enter the water in areas where there are signs of baitfish, especially those used by sport or commercial fishermen. Feeding areas or areas where sewage, runoff or rivers flow into the sea are also dangerous. Diving sea birds are good indicators of these areas.
6. Tone it down. Use extra caution when waters are murky and avoid brightly colored clothing—sharks see contrast particularly well.
7. No splash zone. Avoid excess splashing and do not allow pets in the water because their erratic movements may attract shark attention.
8. Skip the local hangouts. Exercise caution when occupying the area between sandbars or near steep drop-offs—these are favorite hangouts for sharks.
9. Don’t panic. Do not enter the water if sharks are known to be present and evacuate the water swiftly but calmly if sharks are sighted.
10. Keep your hands to yourself. It goes without saying, but do not harass or provoke a shark if you do encounter one!
To learn more about beach safety and preventing drowning, download the free Red Cross Swim App. Children will enjoy the quizzes and games. Parents can also track their child’s progress in Red Cross swim lessons. Download the app by searching for American Red Cross in app stores or by going to redcross.org/apps.