Vacation time is just around the corner. Yay! The summer heat may have you looking for a way to escape to a place with cool breezes and lots of refreshing water.

If you’re lucky, you will be making your way to the beach for fun in the sun and riding the waves.

If you’re going to spend time at the beach and intend to play in the surf, here’s what you need to know about swimming in oceans.

Following these tips could make your vacation fun, safe, and memorable.

Also, adhering to these basic safety measures could actually mean life (or staying alive) – as opposed to the grim alternative if they are ignored – for you or a family member.

  • Be aware of where the lifeguard is. In fact, if at all possible, try to set your things near the lifeguard station or as near to it as you can. Keep the lifeguard station in view when you go into the water. If you can see the lifeguard station, they can see you. This one tip can save your life.
  • Be aware of the conditions. Before you head into the ocean, know what the water conditions are and what the weather is expected to be. Check with the lifeguard to see if the surf conditions are favorable or not. If the current is strong or the surf is rough or unsafe, there may be warning flags flown from the lifeguard station. If the conditions aren’t safe, it’s best to stay out of the water and enjoy some fun on the beach.
  • Be sure to dress appropriately for the water conditions. Some attire is appropriate if you’re sunbathing but not if you plan on swimming. If you’re going into the ocean, you may want to invest in a wet suit. This will keep your body warm in cold water which means you won’t fatigue as easily. Wet suits will also help you stay buoyant. A pair of good-quality, properly fitting goggles is also a good idea. And don’t forget the sunscreen!
  • Before you jump in the water consider the strength of the waves. Ocean waves can be quite strong or come upon you quickly. Freestyle swimming strokes are your best choice in this type of water. Pay attention to where you are in relation to the lifeguard, and don’t swim out too far from the beach. It is also important to know what your limits are for swimming in an ocean. If you’re beginning to get tired, swim back to shore rather than staying in the water.
  • Pay attention to the rip currents which happen when the water on the beach returns to the ocean. These currents can be quite strong and can pull a swimmer out to sea before they know what’s happening. If you find yourself swimming and not making progress, you may be in a rip current. Stay calm, swim parallel to the shore, and when you’re away from the rip current, go back to the beach.
  • Keep your eye out for jellyfish. These are more likely to be near you than sharks. Although sharks are thought to be more dangerous to swimmers, the truth is more people are injured from jellyfish stings than from shark bites. If you see a jellyfish, dead or alive, try to avoid it at all costs. If you’re stung, get out of the water and rinse the sting with salt water until you can rinse it with vinegar. Then apply antihistamine to the area as soon as you can. The lifeguard will know what to do if you are stung and don’t remember how to treat it.

Finally, what you need to know about swimming in oceans is to use common sense. Don’t swim alone, let the lifeguard know your plans if you’re swimming out of their view, and have fun. If you know what to do when swimming in the ocean, you’ll have a great time and will be safe.