Surf Safety This Weekend

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Chief lifeguard Rob Williams of Newport Beach Fire Department’s marine operations division offers a few quick tips for beginner surfers tackling the waves this summer.

Compiled by Kirsti Correa

The Wedge
The Wedge

Learn to swim—and swim with a friend or swim near a lifeguard. It may seem foreign to us in this beach community to not know how to swim, but there are different levels of ability. … There are dangers and inherent risks when you go in the ocean with big surf, currents, rocks and other structures around the piers, [so] it’s important to know your limitations.”

Understand the area and where to surf. Our beach topography is very interesting because it changes throughout the entire city. People don’t understand that … it’s not the same if they go to 56th Street or the Wedge or Corona del Mar.”

Know the conditions of the ocean. The National Weather Service puts out notifications and there are online sites like Surfline. We have a surf report number that people can call at 949-644-3171. If you’re at the beach, you can find a lifeguard and check in with them to find out the conditions.”

Have a leash with your board. The size typically depends on the length of your board; the longer the board, the longer the leash.”

Don’t dive in when you can go in feet first. We’re not in a pool. The bottom is ever-changing and there are holes and rip currents.”


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  1. Having been part of the O.C in Laguna Beach, South Laguna and Newport Beach as a residence since 1951 and a life guard from 1957 through 1960 in the Laguna area and a life guard in the U.S. Army and Search and Rescue in the Colorado Springs area, never go beyond ones comfort zone into the ocean, pool, lake, and/or river. Your life and/or your body can not with stand the forces of Mother Nature if you are not relaxed and experienced. Bring a lifeless body or a body that has gone over the rocks does not make for a fun day and leads those involved in major depression.


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