Beach etiquette tips 101: Top 7 ways to stay sane on the sand this summer
Here are the top five beachgoer pet peeves, courtesy of lohud's Facebook followers. Wochit
The sand. The waves. The people. The loud music. The garbage. What's happening?
The beach should be the most relaxing place during the summer. But every beachgoer has experienced behaviors — from trash thrown in the sand, people not respecting your space and unsupervised children running wild — that can turn it into anything but a day at the beach.
We asked readers on Facebook about their biggest beach-going pet peeves. The top five were litter, music, cigarette butts, space stealers, and unsupervised kids.
In an effort to help all beachgoers brush up on their shore etiquette, we reached out to George Hutchinson III, a New Jersey resident who spent his summers down at the shore. He wrote a book on beach etiquette with the help of his daughter, Elizabeth Ackmann.
"The beach is for all to enjoy," Ackmann said. "You should have respect for each other and treat it as your home. We're going there to relax. Respect the beach, respect your beach neighbors, and take care of it."
Hutchinson and Ackmann's book, "Beach Etiquette," offers 13 helpful tips.
"I was sitting by the water with my wife when kids accidentally splashed me," Hutchinson said. "No harm, no foul but I turned to my wife and said, 'I'm going to write a book.' I thought it'd be nice to write about common courtesy and what you should be doing on the beach."
So what are some tips for making the beach a relaxing place for everyone?
Carry in, carry out
Pet peeve: "People eating and drinking and then leaving their garbage on the beach!" — Susan W. on Facebook
It seems like a no-brainer, but it's not. We've all seen people who could easily walk over to a garbage can throw their trash in the sand, but don't.
It's not only gross and unsanitary, it can be dangerous. People are walking around the beach with bare feet where things like glass and plastic are easily stepped on.
This goes for cigarette butts too. In New York, smoking is banned on all beaches and boardwalks. As for New Jersey, smoking has been banned on beaches since January. Those who smoke on the beach will face a $250 fine for a first offense.
Pet peeve: "The beach is great but it drives us nuts when you set up your spot and another group comes and sits right on top of you or worse right in front of you when there are plenty of other spots," — Eli C. on Facebook
You got up early to get the perfect spot on the beach. It's near the water, but far enough you don't get splashed; there's a good size space between you and your beach neighbor so you don't bother each other. It's perfect.
Until the rush comes, and someone places their set-up a few inches away from your own, right in front of your view. It's enough to ruin a day.
It's one of Hutchinson's biggest pet peeves too.
"The spreading," Hutchinson said. "We love our beach neighbors, but sometimes it's too close. We're there to relax and I think people forget to leave room for others."
According to Hutchinson, five feet is the ideal space between sites.
"The acceptable width from your fellow beachgoer is five feet more or less (preferably more)," according to "Beach Etiquette." "This will provide plenty of room for everyone to move around comfortably so that all can have a good time."
Tone it down
Pet peeve: "In this day of unlimited types of earbuds, headphones, etc., there is no reason why anybody else has to listen to what you call music," —Barbara A. on Facebook
Some of us are there to listen to the beach, not the latest hits. But with all the technology, it's impossible not to run into someone with speakers or headphones on the beach. And some turn up the volume a little too loud.
Hutchinson suggests headphones or keeping the volume so low that only your group can hear.
Into the wind
Pet peeve: "People who are a. sitting too close and b. after doing so, proceed to spray their kids with endless streams of sunscreen (and) the spray gets all over you," — Daniel M. on Facebook
No one wants sand shaken or sunscreen sprayed unnecessarily into their face. But if you must spray your sunscreen or shake the sand out of your blanket while at the beach, Ackmann advises to go with the wind.
"Figure out which way the wind is going," Ackmann said. "Go away from people, go toward the dunes, or hot sand, and spray yourself or shake your towel."
Pet peeve: Kids and their parents are at the beach to enjoy the day just like everyone else. But sometimes children are left to run around without a parent in sight.
It's not only a pet peeve, as children who are left unsupervised can kick sand onto other people and can scream, but it's also a safety hazard. Kids can quickly get into trouble in the water.
"Drowning is one of the most prevalent causes of death," said Abigail Adams, regional communications officer for the American Red Cross. "According to the CDC, 20% are children ages 14 and younger. Children must be watched at all times. Anything can happen in an instant."
Don't feed the seagulls
Pet peeve: Seagulls.
Seagulls are all over the beach and one of the reasons is because of the food source the beach offers.
Families will sometimes feed them, thinking it's just for fun, or that the seagulls are cute and could use the food.
"It's dangerous," Hutchinson said. "By August (seagulls) are dive bombing people on the beach and people can get hurt."
Herring Gulls, the seagulls commonly found on New York and New Jersey beaches, are territorial about food and can show aggression when that food source is encroached upon.
"We've had instances where seagulls have swooped down and taken a hot dog from off a bun," said George Gorman, regional director for New York state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation at Jones Beach. "Feeding them is encouraging them to do it more. It's also for their own health. They should have their own food source, not burgers and hot dogs."
No peer pressure here
Pet peeve: Getting in over your head because family or friends pressure you into swimming when you're not comfortable.
"No one should put their life at risk because of peer pressure," Adams said. "This is when heartbreak happens. Only 56% of people can perform the basic skills to help themselves get out of danger in the water."
The basic skills are: being able to jump into water over your head and come to the surface; float or tread water for a minute; turn around in the water and find an exit; swim 25 yards.
"Be mindful, and just go to where you're comfortable," Gorman said. "As far as water conditions, you should always go to a lifeguard and ask. They'll help identify rip currents and other dangerous conditions. They're more than happy to help."
George Hutchinson and Elizabeth Ackmann's book "Beach Etiquette" can be purchased on Amazon.
Red Cross tips for swimming
Follow these tips from The Red Cross in order to keep yourself and your family safe when swimming in the ocean.
- Swim in designated areas with a lifeguard present.
- Always swim with a buddy.
- Avoid areas with moving water, waves or rip current.
- Stay within your fitness and swimming capabilities.
The Red Cross also has an app — Swim - American Red Cross — that can help those looking for more swimming tips.