Drowning is the third leading cause of unintentional injury death worldwide, accounting for 7% of injury-related deaths - as reported by the World Health Organization. Age is one major risk factor, with the highest rates of drowning occurring in children aged one to four, followed by children aged five to nine. Of course, open water can have its dangers regardless of one’s age. If you will be embarking on a beach vacation soon, keep the following tips in mind to ensure you stay safe while enjoying memorable experiences.

Choosing Designated Areas
When visiting a beach, inquire first about designated areas with a lifeguard, and avoid obvious risks such as large waves and rip currents. Some of the most common ocean water hazards, reports the Red Cross, include changing tides, drop-offs that suddenly change the depth of water, and underwater obstacles such as rocks and other sharp elements. This is why swimming in a place known to be safe and overseen by staff who are trained in lifesaving is important. Always research the beach you will be visiting to see what official sites and other travelers have to say about any risks associated with particular beaches or seasons. Finally, research before you leave home on how to ‘ride a rip current’ if you are ever caught in one. You should avoid swimming against a current, waiting instead until it is over, and then swimming as soon as you can to the shore.

Practicing Boat Safety
If you choose a classic boating destination such as the Cote d’Azur, Ibiza, or the Amalfi Coast, sailing may be a favorite activity during your travels. If so, you will need to learn to avoid boating related drownings by following key measures. These include ensuring everyone on the boat knows how to swim, wearing officially approved personal flotation devices, and avoiding alcohol intake while you are aboard. Children should be supervised by at least one parent or guardian, and all passengers should only swim in places known and approved by boating staff or official sailing organizations. Knowing how to perform CPR and how to perform the cross chest carry (to pull someone out of the water if there is an issue) are vital skills that could save lives. Finally, any boat you take into the ocean should have a first aid kit, spare food and water, a fire extinguisher, and other key equipment.

Wearing The Appropriate Winter Gear
If you will be visiting a beachside destination during the colder months of the year, you may still be able to swim. In the Canary Islands, for instance, the water is chillier than in the summer, but still warm enough for many to enjoy a swim. Invest in a good wetsuit, which will dramatically increase your buoyancy and help keep you warm and insulated. The wetsuit will help keep you afloat you if you feel tired and need to stop swimming for a while.

If you are planning on visiting a beachside paradise soon, make sure you have your water safety tips down. Knowing how to swim, wearing appropriate protective equipment and wetsuits, and researching any beaches you will be visiting before leaving home, can help you feel secure. So, too, can completing a CPR course and learning skills such as pulling someone safely out of the water if they are in distress.

Written by Jane Sandwood