Can you review safety rules families should follow at the beach?

Staying safe at the beach can be more challenging than staying safe at a swimming pool due to the crowds and strength of the ocean, according to the Arizona-based U.S. Swim School Association. The association has compiled guidelines, all of which are seconded by Bobby Hazen, founder of the Long Island Drowning Prevention Task Force and co-owner of Saf-T-Swim, with 12 Long Island locations:

* Introduce your child to the lifeguard stationed in the area. Make a plan to meet there in case you are separated.

* Teach your children to swim in front of the lifeguard station. If swimming with younger children, never be more than an arm's length away, Hazen says.

* Pay close attention to your older children, too, even though there are lifeguards. "The biggest mistake I see at the beach is parents will be sitting on the blanket when their kids are playing in the water," Hazen says.

* Currents will push swimmers down the shore, so remind kids to frequently look to shore and return to the lifeguard spot.

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* Heed colored flags near the lifeguard that indicate if the water is dangerous, moderately rough or calm.

* Don't dive into the ocean; go feet first to test the depth to help prevent serious neck or head injury.

* Teach your children how to swim out of rip currents -- swim parallel to the shore until out of the current, and then swim diagonally back to shore.

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