MIAMI (CBS4)- South Florida spends much of the year in near-drought conditions, but virtually part of our live is connected to water.

From Hillsboro Inlet to Key West, we can enjoy almost 100 miles of beaches, 22 miles of soft white sand in Miami-Dade alone. Add onto that more than 100 miles of inland waterways like lakes and canals, and in many neighborhoods a swimming pool in every backyard, and it’s pretty important to know how to be safe in the water. Here are the some tips from the US Lifesaving Association.

  • 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.
  • Learn to Swim. This is the best defense against drowning. Teach children to swim at an early age.
  • Don’t fight the current. USLA has found that 80 percent of rescues are caused by rip currents. If you are caught in a rip current, stay calm and swim parallel to the shore until you feel the current relax and then swim to shore.
  • Swim sober. Alcohol can reduce body temperature and impair swimming ability.
  • Leash your board. Surfboards and body boards should be used only with a leash.
  • Don’t float where you cant swim. No one should use a flotation device unless they are able to swim. If non-swimmers fall off one and they are alone, they can drown.
  • Lifejackets = boating safety. One wearable personal flotation device for each person aboard is required. They should be stowed away in a location that is readily available.
  • Don’t dive headfirst; protect your neck. Check depth and obstructions before diving and go in feet first the first time. Use caution when body surfing by always extending a hand ahead of you. These activities can lead to neck injuries that can be lifelong, like paraplegia.

At home, you’re the lifeguard. Drowning is the leading cause of death for children under the age of two.

  • Never leave a child alone anywhere near a pool.
  • Make sure your pool is completely fenced and the fence is locked.