15 tips to stay safe at the beach

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Before you head to the beach this summer, the American Red Cross has some safety tips for beachgoers and swimmers to keep in mind.

Swimming in the ocean takes different skills, so the American Red Cross encourages people to learn how to swim before getting your feet wet.

You should also swim only at a lifeguard-protected beach within the designated swimming areas.

Keep alert while enjoying the water and monitor local weather conditions.

Always swim sober and never swim alone.

Young children or inexperienced swimmers are encouraged to wear Coast Guard approved life jackets in and around the water.

Never dive headfirst.

Pay close attention to children and elderly persons at the beach. Even in shallow water, waves can cause a loss of footing.

Keep a lookout for aquatic life and plants. They can be dangerous.

Rip currents are responsible for most deaths and needed rescues on our nation's beaches every year. For your safety, the Red Cross recommended this advice:

If you are caught in a rip current, stay calm and don't fight the current.

Swim parallel to the shore until you are out of the current. Once you are free, turn and swim toward shore.

If you can't swim to the shore, float or tread water until you are free of the rip current and then head toward shore.

If you feel you can't make it to the shore, draw attention to yourself by waving and calling for help.

Stay at least 100 feet away from piers and jetties. Permanent rip currents often exist near these structures.

If someone is in trouble in the water, get help from a lifeguard. If a lifeguard is not available, have someone call 9-1-1. Throw the victim something that floats - a lifejacket, cooler, inflatable ball and yell instructions on how to escape the current.

When at the beach, check conditions before entering the water. Check to see if any warning flags are up or ask a lifeguard about water conditions, beach conditions, or any potential hazards.

For more tips and resources, please visit the American Red Cross.
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