Beach Safety

A trip to Bald Head Island’s beaches is a fun and memorable experience for everyone. Whether you are swimming, surfing, laying out, or playing in the sand, we want your time here to be as safe as it is enjoyable.  Make sure you review this information before heading to the beach!

Know your location in case of emergency – Know the address of the house you are staying and the closest beach access number to where you will be on the beach.

Break the grip of a rip – Know how to identify rip currents and how to get out of one if you are caught in one.  Learn more HERE. Beach forecast information, including current rip current threat info HERE.

Cover up holes and level sandcastles – If you dig holes or build sandcastles on the beach remember to cover them up and level them before you leave the beach.  These can be a hazard for beach walkers, sea turtles, and emergency vehicles.

Do not swim alone – If anything were to ever happen while you are in the ocean you want to make sure someone is there to help or get help.

Remember the power of shore break, do not dive headfirst and do not leave your back to waves – The power of shore break can drive swimmers into the sand causing neck and back injuries and sometimes even drowning.

Avoid swimming near people who are fishing – Swimmers should stay clear of these areas to avoid getting hooked.

Do not swim within 10 miles of a thunderstorm – 
“Know before you go.” Always check the weather before going out and always leave the water if you see lightning which can happen as far as 10 miles out from a storm.

Swim sober – Do not swim under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. Impairment and swimming in the ocean do not mix.

Leash your boards – Surfboards and bodyboards should only be used with a leash, this way the user will not become separated from the board and the board is not a hazard to other swimmers.

Watch children and inexperienced swimmers – Designate an adult (who is undistracted) to supervise those who are swimming.

Sun exposure – Apply sunscreen early and often.  Apply 30 minutes prior to exposure and reapply after being in the water. Use a beach umbrella for shade from the sun and drink plenty of liquids (non-alcoholic) to avoid dehydration.

Ocean Wildlife – Be aware that stingrays, jellyfish, Portuguese man o’ war, sharks and a variety of other marine life can pose hazards to humans.  CLICK HERE for more information.

Current Beach Forecast Beach Safety Videos


What to do if you see someone in trouble:

  1. Call 911 before you do anything else! Getting rescue personnel on the way should be the first priority. Let the operator know you are on Bald Head Island.
  2. If you believe that you are a good swimmer and are willing to provide assistance, you can grab a flotation device and go in to help if you choose to. NEVER ENTER THE WATER TO CONDUCT A RESCUE WITHOUT A FLOTATION DEVICE!
  3. There are life rings stationed on poles along the beach strand that have been provided by the Village to assist those that choose to help in these situations.
  4. Swim close enough to the person so that you can toss them the flotation device, but not so close that they can grab you or you will become their flotation device. Talk to them and try to keep them calm until help arrives.
Click the image above to view this brochure. Brochures are available at Village Hall and Public Safety (map).

Beach Regulations

  • Dunes are the Village’s first line of defense from storms and hurricanes.  Walking on the dunes compromises the integrity of the dune and the vegetation holding the sand in place and is not permitted per Village ordinance (Sec. 10-122).
  • Village ordinance prohibits walking (or fishing) on the jetty extensions at the harbor entrance and on the terminal groin. These rocks are dangerous because they are slippery. Feet and legs can easily become wedged between the large boulders (Sec. 16-54).
  • Beach equipment (tents, canopies, chairs, etc.) must be removed from the beach between the hours of 9:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m. year around.  Equipment shall be at least 10 feet away from any sea turtle nest or dune vegetation. (Sec. 10-165).
  • Sea turtle nests are marked with wooden posts, tape, and signage, and should be avoided. The Village is a sea turtle sanctuary and the BHI Conservancy works diligently to protect sea turtles.  Per Village ordinance “it shall be unlawful for any person to willfully take any sea turtle or to take any action that may or will disturb or destroy any sea turtle, including but not limited to green, hawksbill, Kemp’s ridley, loggerhead, and leatherback turtles, their nests, hatchlings, or eggs within the sea turtle sanctuary. (Sec. 4-480).”
  • Village ordinance requires that any dog on the beach be physically restrained from sunset to sunrise every day during turtle season (May 1 – November 15).  Pet owners must also clean up pet waste (most public beach accesses have waste bag dispensers). Violation of this ordinance carries a fine of up to $500 (Sec. 4-521)
  • Village ordinance prohibits the possession and/or use of fireworks without a special permit by the county (Sec. 16-81).
  • Village ordinance prohibits the Public Safety Department from issuing open burning permits to individuals between May 1 and November 15 and other times burning is allowed by permit only (Sec. 12-55 (c)).