Entries in Ocean (6)


Ocean Injuries More Common Than Thought

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A new study found that injuries caused by ocean waves are more common and more severe than you might think.

According to a release from the University of Delaware, there have been 1,121 injuries requiring emergency room treatment in the state of Delaware over the past three summers that were related to ocean waves.

Researchers worked with lifeguards to determine how many of these injuries occurred in the surf zone -- the part of the beach between the water's edge and where the waves break. Many of the 1,121 injuries occurred in two feet of water or less, with the patient being knocked over by a wave and driven into the sand.

The study determined that the most frequent beach-related injuries were to the arm and shoulder. On the contrary, neck and spinal injuries were less common than experts expected, making up just under five percent of beach injuries. The patients that did hurt their neck or spine, however, often suffered life-changing injuries.

Interestingly, many of the injuries reported in the study occurred in clusters. On 21 percent of the days studied, there were no injuries at all, whereas on 26 percent of days there were five or more injuries.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


After Near-Drowning, 12-Year-Old Boy Walking and Talking

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(PUYALLUP, Wash.) -- It was an ordinary summer day when Charles "Dale" Ostrander went to the beach with his church group.  As his mother dropped him off, Dale, 12, made his customary sign of a heart for her, and she showed it back to him.

A few hours later, her son was fighting for his life after being dragged under by a riptide off the shores of Washington State.  He spent an estimated 20 minutes under water in the chilly Pacific Ocean, and when rescuers pulled him out, he had no pulse and wasn't breathing.  But, remarkably, Ostrander survived.

And even though he's still in the hospital, doesn't speak much now, and has to undergo grueling therapy, the Spanaway, Wash., boy is walking, dressing himself and learning to talk all over again.

In an interview with ABC News at Good Samaritan Hospital in Puyallup, Dale's parents, Chad and Kirsten Ostrander, say their son's survival is nothing short of a miracle.

"I think God answered a lot of people's prayers," Chad Ostrander said.

Dale's dramatic Aug. 5 rescue made headlines across the nation.  The currents were strong that day and as the boy waded in just a little, the powerful riptide tugged his feet out from under him and swept him away.

Nicole Kissel, 12, was on her boogie board nearby when she heard Ostrander yelling for help.  Ignoring the pleas of her father to come ashore, she used her board to swim into the churning waves and grab Ostrander.

"When I got to him I put him on the board, I grabbed the board and several waves hit us, one of the waves knocked us off," she said.

Emergency responders performed CPR and started an IV.  At the hospital, Ostrander was placed in a medically induced coma.  Four days later, he opened his eyes.

Nicole Kissel visited him that week, and he told her "thank you."

Since then, many have asked whether his survival was a due to the CPR, the cold water -- the ocean temperature was around 56 degrees, or something else.

"This is a miracle from God because it goes against the laws of nature," Terry Minge, the Ostrander family's pastor, said.

Dr. Benjamin Abella, director of clinical research in the Center for Resuscitation Science at the University of Pennsylvania, said Ostrander's survival may be due to the fact that the waters in which he was submerged were sufficiently frigid.

"A number of studies have shown that hypothermia -- reduced body temperature -- is highly protective of the brain when it is starved for oxygen and blood flow," Abella said.  "The water that bathed him was certainly quite cold, and it's likely that his core body temperature dropped during his cardiac arrest event."

Abella said Ostrander's age and overall health may have also been factors in his survival.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Boy Who Survived Drowning Meets Rescuer, Condition Upgraded

Steve Mason/Photodisc(PORTLAND, Ore.) -- The condition of the 12-year-old boy who spent 25 minutes underwater in the Pacific Ocean and was presumed dead has been upgraded, and he has been moved out of intensive care.

"Dale's condition has been upgraded to "fair" by the hospital and is out of ICU," according to the blog,, set up in his honor. "He's not able to get out of bed yet, but he's been receiving physical therapy. He slept well last night!"

The good night's sleep, and promising medical news, for 12-year-old Charles "Dale" Ostrander came just one day after he was able to thank the young heroine who saved his life in a dramatic rescue Aug. 5 off the shores of Washington.

"Thank you," were the words Ostrander, of Spanaway, Wash., spoke to 12-year-old Nicole Kissel when she came to visit him yesterday in the Oregon hospital where the young boy continues to recover.

Kissel was swimming nearby with her father in the waters off the coast of Washington last Friday when she heard Ostrander, at the beach swimming with members of his church youth group, yelling for help.

"I heard some boy say help, help me," Kissel said. Ignoring the pleas of her father, she used her surfboard to swim into the churning waves and grab Ostrander.

"When someone is about to drown or someone needs help you don't really think about it before you're about to help them," she said of her actions.

"I let him on the board first, and I got on top of him, grabbed the board and he said, 'Keep kicking, keep kicking,'" Kissel said. "When we were on that board I kinda shouted out to myself, we're gonna die, I can't die like this."

Just then, Kissel recounted, another massive wave hit them both and, while Kissel managed to make it back to shore, Ostrander did not. The boy remained at sea, pulled underwater for more than 15 minutes.

Once rescuers from a volunteer surf rescue team finally spotted Ostrander and managed to pull the boy from the sea, he was not conscious and not breathing, and no one expected him to live.

On the shore, Ostrander's family and the other children from his church youth group dropped to their knees to sob and pray. Also waiting on the shore were medics who immediately started CPR on Ostrander and transported him to a nearby hospital where, finally, his pulse returned.

A medical helicopter then flew Ostrander to Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, where he was placed in a medically-induced coma.

The prognosis looked grim over the weekend, and the boy's parents feared the worst.

"They never expected him to live," the boy's father, Chad Ostrander, who was at the beach at the time of the incident along with his wife, Kirsten, said. "They expected him to be a vegetable -- never walk, never talk, never say a word."

Doctors in Portland tried one more time to reach Ostrander on Sunday night, easing him off sedatives and calling his name. This time, the young boy opened his eyes and blinked.

"That was when we knew, hey, maybe there is a miracle that's happening here," Chad said.

On Monday, those same doctors who feared Ostrander would not survive, were able to remove the breathing tube that had been keeping the boy alive.

Dr. Benjamin Abella, director of clinical research in the Center for Resuscitation Science at the University of Pennsylvania, said Ostrander's survival may be due to the fact that the waters in which he was submerged were sufficiently frigid. Abella said Ostrander's age and overall health may have also been factors in his survival.

Doctors continue to caution the Ostranders that their son faces a difficult road ahead of physical therapy, and could have permanent brain damage.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Beach Danger: Beware of Rip Currents This Summer

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- As hundreds of thousands of people flock to the nation's beaches this holiday weekend, safety advocates are warning of the dangers of rip currents, a little understood but common phenomenon that claims more than 100 victims in the U.S. annually.

Lifeguard groups say that rip-current drownings are more likely to occur at unguarded beaches, often because municipalities have opted not to pay for the expense of hiring full-time lifeguards. According to the United States Lifesaving Association (USLA), a national organization for lifeguards, more than two thirds of rip-current drowning in 2010 occurred at unguarded beaches.

A weak economy has added an additional challenge Tom Gill, captain of the Virginia Beach Lifesaving Service and a spokesperson for the USLA, says there are "battles" going on around the country to avoid staffing cuts and keep lifeguards on the beaches. "Lifeguards are not immune from the budget cuts that are affecting public safety agencies across the country."

Lifeguards say the drownings also illustrate a lack of public awareness of a phenomenon that is responsible for 80 percent of beach rescues. Rip currents claimed at least 72 lives in 2010, according to USLA figures, but Gill says the true number is probably higher because the USLA depends on voluntary self-reporting by local agencies for its statistics. In 2011, rip currents have already claimed lives in Virginia Beach, Myrtle Beach, S.C., and Bradley Beach, N.J.

"If people were out on the beach and the word 'shark' was used, they'd clear the water without a doubt, but to hear the word rip current, a lot of times, it has little effect...and it is just as deadly," said Gerry Falconer, a lieutenant with Miami Beach Ocean Rescue and president of the southeastern region of the USLA.

Rip currents are not unique to the Atlantic coastline. Weather experts say the phenomenon can occur at any beach with breaking waves, whether on the California coast, the Great Lakes or the Gulf of Mexico.

A rip current forms when water rushes through a low point in a sandbar. The channeled force of the current can drag swimmers away from the shoreline at a rate of up to 8 miles an hour.

"People are being pulled away from shore -- in a sense like a treadmill -- they are not able to get back in and, in most cases, due to their physical conditioning, or distance from the shore, or their swimming ability, the rip current takes a lot of out of them, and which then leads to potential fatalities," said Falconer.

A 2005 ABC News 20/20 investigation highlighted the problem of drownings along the unguarded beaches of Florida's Panhandle. ABC News found that officials in Walton County, Florida had resisted allocating any public funds to hire lifeguards to protect the hundreds of thousands of tourists who visit its 26 miles of white sandy beach annually.

Eight people drowned in one day in 2003 -- known as Black Sunday -- including retired CNN correspondent Larry LaMotte of Atlanta, Georgia and Ken Brindley of Conway, Arkansas who were vacationing with their families. LaMotte had gone in the water to rescue his son who was caught in a rip current and got swept up himself. Brindley, seeing LaMotte in distress, went in to help but could not make it out.

LaMotte's wife Sandee told ABC News that the families had been completely unaware of the danger.

"Here we are, two families, two husbands, two fathers leaving behind two sets of children all because we didn't realize that were in danger playing here at the water's shore," said LaMotte in a 20/20 interview in 2005 at the location of the drowning.

Panhandle lifeguards say that Walton County and other Panhandle communities have made good strides to hire lifeguards and raise tourists' awareness since the 20/20 broadcast, though they remain concerned about the lack of lifeguards at dozens other public beaches across the state, including beaches at 38 state parks.

"This is our backyard and we need to protect it. We're inviting guests and friends and families to come see us here and enjoy it, and we have to keep an eye on them," said Bill Soltz, a certified lifeguard and USLA advisor in Pensacola. "You wouldn't have a town without a police force or a fire department to protect against those incidents, I don't see why you would have a beach with open water and not protect the people utilizing that."

Lifeguards insist that the safest option for inexperienced ocean swimmers is to swim at a beach with lifeguards. For beachgoers who find themselves caught in a rip current, they offer these potentially life-saving tips:

  • Remain calm.
  • Don't try to swim against the current.
  • Try to swimming parallel to the shoreline to get out of the current.
  • When out of the current, swim at an angle away from the current, towards the shore.
  • If you are unable to swim out of the current, float or calmly tread water.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Going to the Beach? Pack Your...Meat Tenderizer?

David De Lossy/Photodisc(BREVARD COUNTY, Fla.) -- Depending on which beach you're visiting, you might want to carry some vinegar or meat tenderizer, just in case you get into a tete-a-tentacles with jellyfish.

Vinegar was the solution of choice this Memorial Day weekend when about 800 stings were reported at Florida beaches, primarily Cape Canaveral and Cocoa Beach.

Eisen Witcher, Brevard County's assistant ocean lifeguard chief, said that strong, east onshore winds had pushed the jellyfish toward the beaches.  Most people were stung on their ankles, arms and torsos, Witcher said, and there were two cases of allergic reaction in which people had to be transported to a hospital for respiratory issues.

Witcher offered these tips for treating stings:

  • Get out of the water and check respirations. People react to stings differently.
  • Watch for swelling.
  • Rinse area with vinegar solution or a meat tenderizer.
  • Scrape away tentacle or residual stingers.
  • And about that whole "urine cures jellyfish stings" myth: Witcher advised against it because urine actually carries a low ammonia content, which won't reduce pain as effectively as the other remedies.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio´╗┐


High Radiation in Japanese Fish Raises Concerns

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Are you green around the gills with Monday's news that Japan's Tokyo Electric Power Co. is dumping tons of radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean? Experts say there's no need for worry -- at least for now.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said it will require seafood imported from Japan to be checked for radiation before it enters the food supply. But even with the new screenings, no one in the U.S. government is saying "stop eating tuna."

"Other food products from this area, including seafood, although not subject to the Import Alert, will be diverted for testing by FDA before they can enter the food supply," the FDA said in a prepared statement. "FDA will also be monitoring and testing food products, including seafood, from other areas of Japan as appropriate."

More specifically, an FDA spokesperson told ABC News that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement "is screening everything from Japan." However, screening does not entail testing all the seafood. In fact, the FDA inspects less than two percent of seafood, according to Winona Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch.

Since screening, the FDA confirmed finding three food products from Japan that contained radioactive isotopes, although they were "all too low to cause adverse events." So far, the FDA said that every piece of seafood that has been imported to the United States is safe.

Offshore from the Fukushima plant, the seawater is now testing at levels off the charts -- 7.5 million times more radioactive than the legal limit.

"I can't go out to fish because of the radiation," one Japanese fisherman told ABC News. "I cannot do anything."

But another fisherman said it was a "bad rumor" that the fish was unsafe to eat. "The fish are totally fine, I believe," he said.

Because of the elevated levels, the Japanese government also announced on Tuesday that it will, for the first time, enact radiation safety standards for fish.

"We're deeply sorry for discharging the radiated water," said Japan's chief cabinet secretary Yukio Edano on Monday, "but it was necessary to prevent spreading higher radiated water into the ocean."

Even though radiation levels become diluted in large bodies of water, officials tested a sample of sand lance fish, often used for bait, and found that the species contained nearly double the levels of iodine 131 and cesium 137. The new regulation caps fish radiation levels at the same amount as vegetables -- up to 2,000 bequerels of iodine 131 per kilogram.

Edano said that government will strictly monitor the seafood and move forward after officials understand the full impact of the dumping.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio ´╗┐

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