How to stay safe from shark attacks this summer

·3 min read
How to stay safe from shark attacks this summer

As you hit the beach this Fourth of July weekend, remember to be mindful of sharks.

Just this week, shark attacks were reported in North Carolina, Southern California and Northern California.

There were 33 unprovoked shark attacks on humans in the United States last year, including three which were fatal, according to the Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida.

MORE: Man in serious condition after being bitten by great white shark at California beach

The fatalities took place in California, Hawaii and Maine.

The majority of the unprovoked attacks -- 16 -- occurred in Florida.

MORE: Boy bitten by shark while at Boy Scouts camp near Catalina Island

Here are some tips for how to stay safe, according to former Green Beret and survival expert Terry Schappert.

Editor's note: This article was initially published in 2015 and has been updated

PHOTO: Warning signs are placed along the beach to warn swimmers and surfers of recent shark sightings in San Clemente, Calif., May 23, 2017. (Reuters via Newscom, FILE)
PHOTO: Warning signs are placed along the beach to warn swimmers and surfers of recent shark sightings in San Clemente, Calif., May 23, 2017. (Reuters via Newscom, FILE)

Stay calm

If you see a shark, don't thrash or scream, Schappert told ABC News in 2015. Just turn around, get out of the water and tell everyone else to get out, he said.

MORE: Man killed by shark was beloved grandfather with 'sense of adventure,' wife says

Sharks pick up vibrations and smells, but they can't see you most of the time, Schappert said.

"The more you flail around ... [the sharks] are very attracted to that," he added.

PHOTO: A great white shark is seen here in this undated stock photo. (STOCK PHOTO/Shutterstock)
PHOTO: A great white shark is seen here in this undated stock photo. (STOCK PHOTO/Shutterstock)

Have a plan

Every beachgoer should have an evacuation plan, which includes knowing where the closest hospital is, Schappert said.

MORE: Shark attacks: What are the most dangerous places in America? Here's your guide.

"Just think in your head, what would happen ... if someone you love just got bit? What now?" he said. "Don't be paranoid, but have a procedure. Think about how you'd get out of the water, then think about ... the chain of what would happen next."

"Try not to freak out," Schappert added. "But know it's a possibility."

Know first-aid

Most shark bites are on the limbs, according to Schappert, and when a shark's mouth hits a swimmer's arm or leg, "it's bound to sever an artery."

MORE: Newlywed shares details of terrifying shark attack on final day of her honeymoon

"Shark bites are not smooth -- they're jagged -- which makes the wound worse," he said. And the more jagged the wound, the more it will bleed, so it's important to know first-aid.

"The best thing you can do for that person is to stop the bleeding," Schappert said, which, if the victim is bit on a limb, means applying a tourniquet.

PHOTO: Two male great white sharks swim off of Isla de Guadalupe, Mexico in this undated stock photo. (STOCK PHOTO/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Two male great white sharks swim off of Isla de Guadalupe, Mexico in this undated stock photo. (STOCK PHOTO/Getty Images)

Schappert took ABC News' chief national correspondent Matt Gutman swimming in waters teeming with sharks near the Bahamas in 2014.

To properly learn how to fend off sharks, Gutman pulled on 15 pounds of chain mail armor, and then put clothes on top to simulate people finding themselves in such waters after a plane or a boat crash.

MORE: 7-year-old girl suffers apparent shark bite in North Carolina: Officials

Gutman and Schappert then did what experts say not to do: flapping around in waters where sharks were feeding.

While they were in the water, Schappert's advice to Gutman was to:

Slow down your movements

Fast movements give off the signal of prey, he said. Also conserving energy is key to survival in the above scenario.

Team up

If there are two people in the water, Schappert recommended treading water back to back to limit the spheres of control by half, to 180 degrees each.

Fight back

If the sharks begin attacking, fight them off, Schappert said.

He recommended striking the sharks using quick, downward punching motions.

"All you can do is fight and let them know, 'I am not going down easy,'" Schappert told Gutman.

How to stay safe from shark attacks this summer originally appeared on abcnews.go.com

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