Dare County wants to raise awareness in beach safety program

By on July 9, 2019

Have you heard about Love the Beach, Respect the Ocean?

It’s the name of a beach safety campaign focused on providing beach safety information to Outer Banks residents and visitors so they have a better understanding of potential hazards and how to deal with them before they get to the beach.

The Voice first reported on this effort in a story on July 13, 2018. We recently sat down with Dorothy Hester, Dare County’s Public Information Officer and Drew Pearson, the county’s Emergency Management Director to get an update on the campaign and efforts to increase participation in the “Love the Beach, Respect the Ocean” effort.

“Anyone headed to an ocean beach should check the forecast so they know what to expect,” Pearson said. “As a service to our beachgoers, we’ve continued our text-to-join group allowing anyone to subscribe by simply texting “Join OBXBeachConditions” to 30890”.

Pearson wasn’t aware of any other beach community taking these steps to deliver beach-related National Weather Service forecast and alerts along with beach condition reports from ocean rescue personnel to beachgoers.

Pearson and Hester shared that since last year; a website has been established to provide a place where anyone can turn for local ocean safety information. Located at www.lovethebeachrespecttheocean.com beachgoers will find information that may help make decisions, understand the risk, and be better informed before they go to the beach.

Hester noted “When we met the other day as a group one of the things we wanted to get out in this messaging is our unwavering desire to keep people safe. We want everyone to make it home so that they can come back, time and time again. That can be a challenge when you are sitting on the beach and everything looks great even though hazardous ocean conditions are present”.

In the past, when most of us listened to the radio before and while on the beach it was easier to get information into the hands of beachgoers.

“But now everyone listens to something different and its harder to get information out when folks are streaming music, listening to their own music on portable devices or subscribing to one of many websites and push notification resources that do not broadcast localized beach conditions,” Hester added.

Given those factors, Pearson says they are looking for anyone and everyone to pitch in and spread the word. Local organizations such as the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau and the Outer Banks Association of REALTORS are working to share information with visitors. Businesses are also stepping up to expand awareness of the program. For example, Duck Donuts locations on the Outer Banks are offering a free donut to anyone who joins the OBXBeachConditions group.

“We’ve got a lot of ideas— with the help of Outer Banks Forever.org the non-profit arm of the National Park Service, we will have stickers and information cards to distribute, we’re looking for anybody who can help spread the word.”

This campaign is loose enough that anyone can use it. Even individuals can use the hashtag #lovethebeachrespecttheocean to get the word out on social media outlets.

Anyone interested in helping can contact Dare County Emergency Management at 252-475-5655.

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