Hitting the beach is essential summer fun, but remember: Waterfronts come with their own set of hazards. Follow these smart tips to help keep the whole family safe in the sun and surf.
- Learn to swim It's the best way for you and your family to stay safe in and around water. The earlier kids learn, the better.
- Look for lifeguards. You're almost five times more likely to drown when swimming without them. Especially at the ocean, where rip currents can be hazardous, stick to designated swimming areas with a lifeguard on duty.
- Be sun smart. Use sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher, and reapply often, to prevent serious burns and long-term sun damage.
- Check conditions. Look for signs or flags warning of potential hazards. Ask the lifeguard where to swim and what to avoid. It's their job to spot dangers.
- Buddy up. Don't swim alone at a beach or pool, even with a lifeguard present. A buddy swimming with you can quickly help if you're in trouble.
- Don't battle rip currents. If you get caught in one, stay calm and do not fight it. Swim parallel to shore or tread water until you feel the current relax, then swim in.
- Stay hydrated. Drink lots of water, even if you don't feel thirsty—dehydration can sneak up on you in the hot sun. Be smart about alcohol, too, since it contributes to water loss.
- Rely on Coast Guard-approved life jackets. Everyone should wear them on boats, and children and inexperienced swimmers should also wear them in and around water, particularly where waves can easily knock you over.
- Don't dive. Go in feet-first to check for depth and obstructions. Hitting bottom head-first can cause serious neck injuries.
- Help smart. Drowning can be quiet and quick. If someone looks to be in trouble, yell for the lifeguard and try to help with a flotation device.
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