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Tips to keep your kids safe in the water this summer

July 2, 2012 5:31:27 AM PDT
New York City pools are already open and beaches are crowded. It's fun for kids, but parents have to be alert.

Eyewitness News has vital tips for parents as kids head to the water this summer.

A child can slip beneath the water in a few seconds, and you will never hear their cries for help. So before you go to the pool or the beach, here is what parent should know.

On a hot day, the cool water is so inviting, but it can also be dangerous. Swimming lessons are crucial as soon as your child turns 4, but even then, don't let them out of your sight for a second. Keep them within arm's distance.

"The lifeguard is there for the general safety of everyone, but you should assume responsibility of your own family," YMCA aquatics specialist Mary O'Donohue said.

Know your limitations. If you can't swim, stay in the shallow end, even if your child can swim. If you are at a backyard pool, assign an adult to watch the pool at all times.

Keep safety equipment nearby, as well as a phone in case of emergency. And don't rely on arm floaties. Only a U.S. Coast Guard-certified life jacket will keep your child afloat.

When it comes to the beach, the water can be even more dangerous. Swim near the lifeguards and ask them about current and tide conditions. If you get caught in a rip current, swim parallel to the beach until the current weakens.

For children, knee deep is too deep. Strong winds, waves and currents create dangerous rip tides that can sweep children out to sea.

Don't dive, as two-thirds of catastrophic neck injuries occur in open water.

Experts say they cannot stress enough how important is it to learn how to swim, no matter what your age. The YMCA of New York has classes for all ages. Get more information at YMCANYC.org

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