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Water Safety Week: Rip current risks

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SEASIDE HEIGHTS, N.J. — This week, CBS2 is bringing you stories about water safety and how to prevent tragedy.

Every case is different, but in many, there are three things you should know to stay safe: Never go in the water without a lifeguard on duty, always be aware of red flag and rip current warnings, and start kids young with swim lessons as early as three months old.

As summer rolls in, beaches like in Seaside Heights are starting to fill up. Chief Jay Boyd has been watching over the waters there for half a century.

“We average probably anywhere from 150 to 200 rescues a year,” he told CBS2’s Nick Caloway.

Over Memorial Day Weekend, lifeguards in Seaside Heights pulled 11 people from the water. Boyd said the vast majority of drownings down the Shore happen on beaches where there are no lifeguards on duty. 

“Most of the time it’s due to rip currents. Now, they change daily, they’ll change with the wind, they’ll change mostly with the tides,” he said.

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He says that’s why it’s so important to look out for red flags. If you see one, don’t go in the water. 

But it’s not just the oceans and pools where swimmers get into trouble. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 40% of drownings in kids ages 5 to 14 occur in natural waters, like oceans, rivers and lakes.

Experts say a critical way to keep your kids safe is getting them swim lessons — the younger, the better. 

Caloway caught up with parents and their very little swimmers at NJSwim School in Brick Township, where the motto is “learn to float.”

“She started at 3 months. So I just thought it was cool that at a young age she could start swimming,” said parent Debora Reyes.

“We’ve been doing this for a few months, and he’s just so much more comfortable in the water,” parent Summer Scholl said. “It’s been fun, and I feel better that he knows what to do and how to get himself out of the pool.”

Experts warn no child is ever entirely safe in the water. But according to the National Institute of Health, swim lessons can reduce the risk of drowning in young kids by up to 88%.

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Experts also recommend kids use Coast Guard-approved life jackets, and adults and teens should avoid using drugs or alcohol or drugs when boating or swimming. 

Source: CBS

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