What's the best way to prevent accidents at the beach? Practice these safety tips put out by the United States Lifeguard Association. Rule #1 is learn to swim. Seriously, if you're not a strong swimmer, or if you don't know how, stay away from the water!
1. Learn To Swim: Learning to swim is the best defense against drowning. Teach children to swim at an early age. Children who don't learn to swim when they are young tend to avoid swim instruction as they age, possibly due to embarrassment.
2. Swim Near a Lifeguard: USLA statistics over a ten year period show that the chance of drowning at a beach without lifeguard protection is almost five times as great as drowning at a beach with lifeguards.
3. Swim with a Buddy: When you swim with a buddy, if one of you has a problem, the other may be able to help, including signaling for assistance from others.
4. Check with the Lifeguards: Lifeguards work continually to identify hazards that might affect you. They can advise you on the safest place to swim, as well as places to avoid.
5. Use Sunscreen and Drink Water: Sun exposure affects your body. Without sunscreen, you can be seriously burned. The sun can also dehydrate you quickly.
6. Obey Posted Signs and Flags: Read the signs when you first arrive and follow their direction. Flags may be flown by lifeguards to advise of hazards and regulations that change from time to time.
7. Keep the Beach and Water Clean: Nobody likes to see the beach or water littered with trash. Do your part. Pick up after yourself and even others. Everyone will appreciate you for it.
8. Learn Rip Current Safety: Most rip currents are narrow and a short swim parallel to shore will bring you to safety. Don't fight a rip current! Instead, swim parallel to shore until you feel the current relax, then swim back to the beach.
9. Enter Water Feet First: Don't dive into waves or off body boards, even if you think the water is deep enough. Body surfing and body boarding can result in a serious neck injury.
10. Wear a Life Jacket When Boating: Drowning accounts for 80% of watercraft accident fatalities. Most involve people who never expected to end up in the water.