Swim near a lifeguard

By on May 28, 2022

Know Before You Go

Dare County

Lifeguard stand at Coquina Beach Access on Bodie Island. (CHNS file photo)

As residents and visitors head to the 110 miles of shoreline along Dare County’s Outer Banks, Emergency Management officials urge beachgoers to beware of potential hazards and safety concerns they may encounter when they arrive on the county’s beaches.   

To give beachgoers information on how to enjoy our beautiful ocean beaches safely, Dare County Emergency Management maintains a LOVE THE BEACH, RESPECT THE OCEAN website.  Please visit the site for local tips on how to make your beach visit safe and memorable.

Swim near a Lifeguard

Lifeguards are on duty beginning Saturday, May 29 and will remain through Labor Day, with roving patrols on some beaches through mid-October. Never swim alone. Lifeguards and information located on lifeguard stands provide beachgoers with valuable information about current beach conditions.  Check the NWS beach forecast before you head out at  BEACH FORECAST and click the umbrella for your beach. For more information, visit Dare County Beach Hazards.

Visit each town’s link below for details and additional information.

Nags Head

Lifeguards are on duty from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day with a roving patrol through October 15  at the following beaches: Abalone Street, Bonnett Street, Enterprise Street, Epstein Street Bathhouse, Gulfstream Street, Hargrove Street, Indigo Street, Juncos Street.

Kill Devil Hills

Lifeguards are on duty from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day with a roving patrol through October 15 at the following beaches: Helga Street, Hayman Street, Eden Street, Avalon Drive, 5th Street, 3rd Street, 2nd Street, 1st Street, Coral Drive, Asheville Drive, Woodmere Avenue, Carlow Avenue, Ocean Bay Boulevard, Oregon Avenue, Baum Street, Clark Street, Martin Street, Atlantic Street, Ocean Acres Beach Access (Neptune Drive), Lake Drive, Eighth Street.

Kitty Hawk 

Lifeguards are on duty from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day with a roving patrol. Lifeguards are stationed at Byrd Street, Eckner Street, Lillian Street, Kitty Hawk Bath House.

Southern Shores

Lifeguards are on duty from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day at the following beaches: Hillcrest Drive & Chicahauk Trail.

Lifeguards are on duty from mid-June through mid-August at E. Dogwood Trail & 142 Ocean Boulevard

Handicapped Beach Accesses are located at Oceanview Loop & Hillcrest Drive.


Lifeguards are on duty from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. May 24 through September 9 at the following beaches: Caffey’s Inlet, Sprigtail Drive, Barrier Island Station, Schooner Ridge Drive, Christopher Drive, Four Seasons.

Lifeguards are on duty from June 13 through August 10 at the following beaches: Ocean Pines, Widgeon Drive, Snow Geese, Dune Road, Scarborough Lane, Plover Drive.

Cape Hatteras National Seashore

Lifeguards are on duty from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Memorial Day through Labor Day at the following beaches: Coquina Beach (across from the Bodie Island Lighthouse site), Cape Hatteras Lighthouse Beach (adjacent to the Old Cape Hatteras Lighthouse site), Frisco Beach (located just south of Frisco Village), Ocracoke Beach (1 1/2-miles south of the NPS campground OR 1/2-mile north of Ocracoke Village).

Please note, should conditions on the beach change, stand locations may be shifted. Please heed words of caution, advisories, and/or the flying of red (no swimming) flags. They are issued for your safety.


Monitor the Weather

Weather forecasts can change rapidly. Check the forecast before you head to the beach. If thunder roars, head indoors. Lightning often strikes more than three miles from the center of the thunderstorm, far outside the rain or thunderstorm cloud. “Bolts from the blue” can strike 10-15 miles from the thunderstorm.


Lightning Myths vs. Facts

Rip Current Forecasts from the National Weather Service


Stay Alert

Rip currents, encounters with marine life, submerged objects, sand bar drop-offs, and jellyfish are just a few of the hazards found in near shore waters. Stay alert to your surroundings and keep an eye on family and friends. Don’t let alcohol impair your common sense. When visiting the beach with children, adults should take turns as the designated “water watcher” and keep an eye on children in the water at all times, avoiding all distractions including smartphones.



The force of shorebreak waves can catch unsuspecting swimmers off guard driving them into the sand, causing neck and back injuries, and in some cases, even drowning.


Marine Life Encounters

Ocean and sound waters are the home to a wide variety of marine life including predators like sharks. Beachgoers need to be aware of their surroundings before they make the personal decision to enter the water. Some tips to reduce your risks include: avoid swimming in areas where people are fishing and near fishing piers, avoid areas where schools of fish are active, don’t wear or take jewelry and shiny objects into the water as reflective light resembles fish scales, stay out of the water if you are bleeding or have open sores.

 Shark Sense by N.C. Sea Grant


Outer Banks Accessible Beaches

Outer Banks Visitor Bureau

Everyone can enjoy the beaches and fishing that have made the Outer Banks a world-famous destination.

Here you will find a list of Beach and Sound Accesses including handicapped accessible locations.

Mobi-Mats are available at the Eighth Street Beach Access and Jennette’s Pier Beach Access.

Beach Wheelchairs

Do you or someone you’re traveling with have mobility issues? Cape Hatteras National Seashore and ocean rescue divisions along the Outer Banks offer beach wheelchairs to assist with doing what we all love – getting outside and enjoying the beach!


Beach Wheelchair Locations

Duck: Call Duck Surf Rescue (252) 982-6747.

Kitty Hawk: Call Fire Department (252) 261-2666 for availability.

Kill Devil Hills: Call Ocean Rescue Headquarters at (252) 480-0080 for availability. Kill Devil Hills Ocean Rescue and the Town of KDH:   We have beach wheelchairs for loan (free of charge!) at the Ocean Bay bathhouse, as well as a completely handicap accessible beach access from the parking lot to the beach. Wheelchairs are available for daily or multiple day use as supplies last. Contact our Ocean Rescue Division at 252-480-0080 or stop by and chat at the Ocean Bay Boulevard beach access building, which is located at 103 S. Virginia Dare Trail at approximately the 8.5 milepost.

Jockey’s Ridge: State Park (252) 441-7132 or visit the park office for availability.

Nags Head: Call Fire Department (252) 441-5909 or Ocean Rescue (252) 480-2555 for availability. Beach Wheelchairs are available all year long by reservation at the Nags Head’s Fire Station 16. Wheelchairs can also be rented from local equipment rental companies. Call Nags Head Fire and Rescue at 252-441-5909 more information. Please remember we do not deliver these chairs, so you need to be able to transport it, a truck is recommended, they will not fit in a car or small SUV.

Coquina Beach: Call Cape Hatteras National Seashore at (252) 473-2111 for availability. From Memorial Day – Labor Day, available at the beach.

Hatteras: Call Cape Hatteras Lighthouse Visitor Information at (252) 995-4474 for availability.

Ocracoke: National Seashore/Ocracoke Visitor Center (252) 928-4531.

Beach wheelchairs are available in all districts at the Lifeguarded beaches: Coquina Beach Access (Bodie Island), Old Lighthouse Beach Access (Buxton, Hatteras Island), Frisco Beach Access (Hatteras Island), and Ocracoke Beach Access (Ocracoke Island). Lifeguards are on duty Memorial Day – Labor Day from 9:00am – 5:00pm.

You may also inquire about beach wheelchairs at any visitor center if you’re traveling outside of the Memorial Day – Labor Day window. Please visit our website for other Accessibility options at https://www.nps.gov/caha/planyourvisit/accessibility.htm


Sand Safety

Ocean rescue personnel and lifeguards must be able to drive on the sand day and night to quickly provide emergency services to those in need. Large holes in the sand can be difficult to see and are dangerous obstacles. Sand collapses can occur in holes just a few feet deep. Children and adults should not dig holes deeper than their knees when standing in them. If you do dig, fill it in.


Know Your Location

In an emergency, every second counts. The Dare County Sheriff’s 911 Communications staff may not be able to immediately identify your location from a cell phone. Pay attention to what street you access the beach or sound from and what milepost you are located near. If you are unable to provide an address or location of the emergency, response times can be hindered in life or death situations.

Why Are Red Flags Flying?

If red flags are flying, swimming is prohibited. For your safety and the safety of ocean rescue staff. Although flags may be posted on sunny warm days with blue skies, it means the water conditions are not safe to swim in.





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