Chief Peter Davis of Galveston Island Beach Patrol Talks Beach Safety Tips

Tips for staying safe on Galveston beaches.

There’s nothing better than Galveston beaches for getting toes in the sand, sun on the face, and your daily dose of salt! We’re here to help you do it safely.

Galveston Island Beach patrol vehicle, yellow truck in front of lifeguard stand

About Galveston Island Beach Patrol

The Galveston Island Beach Patrol is certified as an “advanced” level agency of the United States Lifesaving Association and is the designated lifeguard service for the city of Galveston. It is a Texas Department of Health certified first response agency employing over 140 people when at full strength, comprised of lifeguards, senior guards, supervisors, peace officers, and dispatchers.

Galveston Island Beach Patrol.

Galveston Island Beach Patrol's Mission

The mission of GIBP is to protect the over 7 million people who visit the Galveston beaches each year, respond to aquatic emergencies 24/7/365, educate the public about beach safety, and be a good community partner. Our highest priority is to get each beach visitor home safely.

Beach Safety

It is important to familiarize yourself with our Flag Warning System (FWS) which advises beach patrons of the current water conditions and any applicable environmental warnings.

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Beach Safety

Galveston boasts an “Advanced Level” Lifeguard service certified by the United States Lifesaving Association. We’re out there from early morning till dark throughout the summer at the large beach parks and along the seawall, so shouldn’t be hard to find the right place. The guard is an added layer of protection, although you are still responsible for you and your family’s safety. They are there not only to protect you but to serve as ambassadors for all the island has to offer.

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Beach Safety
Avoid Rip Currents

Specifically, stay away from the rocks and structures- where there is a chance you could be caught in a dangerous rip current that will pull you out. If caught in a rip current, relax and float until the currents and waves return you to shore. If you’re a good swimmer, swim parallel to shore towards breaking waves where the water is shallow and then go to shore. Never enter a rip to help someone. Instead, throw a floating object like the ring buoys and ropes in the rescue boxes on the groins.

Beach Safety Tips (cont.)

Avoid Swimming at the Ends of the Island: the San Luis Pass and the Ship Channel have strong tidal currents and changing bottom contours. Fish from shore in these areas!

Don’t Swim Alone: your buddy can call or wave for help if you can’t.

Don’t Dive in Headfirst: to avoid the chance of a head or neck injury.

Observe Warning Signs and Flags: all 600 of ours are all bilingual and use icons

Lifejackets: Non-swimmers and children should use properly fitted lifejackets when in our around the water.

Alcohol and Water Don’t Mix: many of the beaches here are alcohol free

Take Precautions from the Heat and Sun: such as loose-fitting clothing and a hat, sunscreen with a high SPF, good sunglasses, and drinking plenty of non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated beverages.

Remember the beach isn’t a pool or pond. There are currents, marine life, and the bottom is uneven with troughs and drop-offs. You should be much more careful and be sure to not exceed your ability. And most importantly maintain good situational awareness and….

It's most important to maintain good situational awareness and…. don’t check your brain at the causeway! Chief Peter Davis, Galveston Island Beach Patrol

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Peter Davis Chief of Galveston Island Beach Patrol/ Park Board Police Department

Peter Davis has been an open water lifeguard for 37 years and currently serves as Chief of the Galveston Island Beach Patrol and of the Park Board Police Department, where he is responsible for over 140 beach lifeguards and police officers as well as a junior lifeguard program of about 120 children. He currently volunteers as the Secretary General of the Americas Region of the International Lifesaving Federation, and is the Past President and current Liaison Officer of the United States Lifesaving Association (USLA). He holds a B.A. in Psychology from Trinity University and a Master of Fine Art from the University of California-Davis.

In 2017 he was awarded the title of Knight in the Order of Lifesaving from the International Lifesaving Federation, and in 2019 he was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame, Water Safety category.

Peter is a USLA instructor for open water lifeguarding and personal watercraft rescue, as well as a Red Cross Instructor for Lifeguarding and Medical Response. He holds certification as an Emergency Medical Technician, Peace Officer, and Public Safety Diver. He is on the USLA/NOAA (National Weather Service and Sea Grant) National Rip Current Education Task Group. He also represents USLA on Water Safety USA, a roundtable of equal leaders in water safety for the United States. He co-produced and co-wrote the educational video “Texas Beaches- Know the Dangers” winner of both the National Telly and Communicators Awards. He also co-edited the Spanish edition of the USLA Manual- 2nd edition and has spearheaded a great deal of lifesaving development work around the world, particularly in central and south America.

In addition to his career in Lifesaving, Peter, a 7th generation Galvestonian, has taught Art in Botswana, Brooklyn, and Galveston. He spends his free time surfing, training, and spending time with his 15-year-old daughter, Kai, on the beach. He loves Galveston and was the Art Director of the Galveston See-Wall mural project.