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

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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.

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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 can’t 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.
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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.