Swimming at the beach can be fun but...
It's hard to resist a day on the beach, but you'll need to know some safety rules for swimming in the ocean. Swimming in the ocean is trickier than the pool because of waves and currents, which can change. When you first get to the beach, check with the lifeguard to find out how strong the waves are. Some places fly flags or write notes on a chalkboard to give swimmers an idea of what conditions are like.
Waves can knock you down or push you to the ocean floor. Stay close to an adult or get out of the water when the waves get rough. People also get into trouble when they start to panic or become too tired to swim. It's important to know your limits, so if you start feeling tired, get out of the water and rest for a while.
In some places, swimmers may run into strong undertows or ocean currents. Rip currents (also called riptides) are so strong that they can carry swimmers away from shore before they know what's happening. If you are caught in a current, swim parallel to the shore (alongside the shore) rather than toward the shore until the water stops pulling you, then swim diagonally back to shore. If you can't get back to the beach, tread water and wave for a lifeguard's help. In this situation, it's really important to stay calm and not panic.
You probably won't see any sharks (although a friendly dolphin may splash by) where you are swimming. But you might run into some jellyfish or Portuguese man-of-wars. These umbrella-shaped, nearly clear animals can grow to be as large as several feet in diameter! They are often found floating near the shore. Getting stung is no fun — it can hurt and blister your skin. If you get stung, tell an adult as soon as possible.
Other rules to follow:
Never swim alone!Always swim where a lifeguard can see you and in areas that are marked for swimmers to use.
Wear protective footwear if surfaces are rough or rocky.Don't swim out too far.Never pretend to be drowning. The lifeguard may take you seriously.
Don't swim close to piers — those big, wooden structures that jut out into the water. If the water moves suddenly, you could hit a piling or a rock.
Face the waves, instead of turning your back on them. Then you'll know what's coming.