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Make water safety part of your holiday weekend plans

Wednesday - 5/22/2013, 7:46am  ET

swimming pool (AP)
Memorial Day weekend is a popular time to hit the beach, so it's also a good time to think about water safety. Never leave children unattended at the pool, especially toddlers. And never swim alone. (WTOP File)

WASHINGTON - From the North Carolina's Outer Banks to Virginia Beach, Ocean City and Rehoboth Beach, soon many people will pop open the beach umbrellas, leave their footprints in the sand and dash into the chilly waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

Memorial Day weekend is a popular time to hit the beach, so it's also a good time to think about water safety.

For those staying close to home, most area swimming pools open this weekend.

It's safety first whether you're at a public pool, a swim club or in your own backyard haven.

The United States Lifesaving Association recommends beachgoers swim near a lifeguard and never swim alone. Always swim with a buddy.

It's wise to obey posted signs and flags. And learn rip current safety. Don't fight the current and swim parallel to the shore to get out of a rip current.

The nonprofit association of beach lifeguards also recommends to swim sober as alcohol is a major factor in drownings. And always keep a watchful eye on children at the beach and at the pool.

Staying safe at the pool can prevent both injuries and illnesses.

Drowning is the leading cause of injury deaths among toddlers, so never leave children unattended at the pool and watch them when they're in the water.

The Maryland Department of Health recommends you keep a cellphone handy at the pool in case of emergencies.

As for private pools, they should be fenced. Keep adequate chlorine and pH levels in the water.

The best way to keep germs out of the water is to wash with soap before entering the pool.

For more beach and pool safety tips, visit the United States Lifesaving Association website.

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