Fourth 2014 at Horny Corner (copy)

Horny Corner and the inner Alamitos Bay beach during a previous Fourth of July celebration.

Summertime means plenty of warm days by the water, and with the Fourth of July holiday weekend, officials are stressing the importance of water safety.

"We want everyone to enjoy the summer, but also be very mindful of your surroundings," Gonzalo Medina, Marine Safety Division chief, said. "If you go swimming, swim near a lifeguard station and drink plenty of water."

Temperatures are expected to be warm this weekend, and Medina said that his team treats beachgoers daily for dehydration. 

Another concern is stingrays.

"We do get a number of stingray wounds, a dozen a day when the water is warmer," he said. "They like to soak in the sun on a warm day, so we encourage people to do the 'stingray shuffle.'"

The "stingray shuffle" means digging feet into the sand while standing in the water. If there's a stingray nearby, it will feel the vibrations and move out of the way. They won't aim to sting people, Medina said, but they will react if they're stepped on.

"Most stings are not serious and treated with very hot water at the lifeguard stations," he said. "The sting hurts but isn't life threatening; the only worry is if someone is allergic to the sting, which would look like an allergic reaction to a bee sting, for example."

As for sharks, Medina notes that there's always been shark activity along the coast, but it shouldn't be a concern for the casual swimmer, because the number of sharks is consistent with what his team has seen in the past — and he's been a member of the department for nearly two decades.

"Most juvenile great white sharks tend to feed on stingrays and other fish," he said. "But we're always keeping a lookout."

He added that his team uses drone technology to verify and confirm any sightings, which is largely used for research purposes in partnership with Cal State Long Beach's Shark Lab.

And the thresher shark that washed ashore just a few weeks ago was a rare happening too, he said.

"Dr. (Chris) Lowe (director at the Shark Lab), said the thresher shark was washed up as a result of being sick," Medina said. "That's very rare here, so I don't expect to see something like that again anytime soon."

Finally, during Fourth of July weekend, Medina warns that there should be no fireworks on the beach as there are plenty of designated shows — like at the Queen Mary — that can be viewed from a safe distance.

"We are all hands on deck for our lifeguarding staff, but we also want to encourage people to celebrate safely and responsibly," he said. "We want everyone to have fun, but be sure to drink plenty of water and be mindful of your surroundings."

Long Beach's Marine Safety Division, which is a part of the Long Beach Fire Department, is responsible for monitoring the safety of Long Beach beaches and waterfronts.

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Stephanie Stutzman can be reached at

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