Your Memorial Day beach safety refresher

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If your Memorial Day weekend plans include swimming at the beach, be sure to take basic safety precautions.

L.A. County Lifeguard Captain Eric Howell shared a few tips with KPCC. 

"If you are going to go in the water, you always want to swim in front of an open lifeguard tower. You always want to check in with the lifeguard for current hazards and ocean conditions. You always want to surf and swim within your ability. And you never want to go into the ocean if you're under the influence of drugs or alcohol," he says.

Jason Young, the Chief of OC Lifeguards echoes those sentiments. He emphasizes that alcohol and the ocean don't mix. Most places in Southern California don't allow alcohol on the beach.

He also says you should be a strong swimmer if you're venturing out into the water and even if you're just approaching the water's edge, you should be careful.

"The ocean, again, is unpredictable and not always can people rely on just staying in shallow areas," Young says. "The bottom's uneven, the waves move so non-swimmers can be pulled away from shore."

Do people always listen? Of course not.

"We do expect to have increased amounts of rescues, preventative contacts attributed to ocean conditions," Young says.

What about when you're on land? Angela Bennett, a spokesperson for the Huntington Beach Police, offers these tips:

  • leave your valuables at home
  • lock up your cars and bikes
  • set up your stuff near a manned lifeguard tower
  • don't leave bags, backpacks or other items unattended
  • bring plenty of sunscreen
  • always have a plan with children, in case they get lost

She urges parents to point out to kids where they are, especially in relation to a lifeguard tower or other landmark. That way, they know where to go and what to do if they get lost.

In the wake of the terrorist attack in Manchester, law enforcement agencies also want people to stay alert for any suspicious activity. But what exactly does "suspicious" mean?

"That's one of those things that a person has to use their instincts on," Bennett says. "So anything that a person might think is suspicious, a suspicious person or people leaving backpacks or anything like that around is something that a person should report."

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