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Staying safe on Israel's beaches

How to swim in and enjoy the ocean and stay safe

As part of our mission to education the public, the Israel Life Saving Federation wants you, too, to know several important points about drowning prevention.

The first and most important point is that knowing how to swim won't necessarily protect you from drowning - certainly not in the ocean. 

The ocean is a dynamic place, and ocean currents can be more powerful than even the strongest swimmer. 

The primary rule for keeping safe is to swim at an official, recognized beach during the hours that lifeguards are there. Not only are lifeguards charged with looking out for swimmers, they also regularly test the waters and use a flag system to mark which parts of the beach may have dangerous currents - a situation that could change over the course of the day. 

Swimming at off hours, and certainly in the dark or while inebriated, all increase your chances of drowning.

If you observe a calm spot between the waves, in all likelihood that's the rip tide - and contrary to first appearances, it's not a safe spot to swim.

If for whatever reason you do find yourself caught in a rip tide, the most important thing to do is to stay calm and don't fight the ocean - easier said than done when you feel yourself being pulled away from shore. Float on your back to preserve your strength, wave to someone on the shore for help, and try to exit the rip by swimming parallel to the beach - not against the current. Eventually the rip will end, and you'll be able to swim back to the beach at an angle. 

And finally, it's important to know that people who try to save others who are drowning in the ocean often wind up dying themselves - often because the drowning person will grab them and prevent them from swimming in their panic to stay alive. If you see someone in trouble, the most important thing is to call for help. Before you head in, evaluate whether you have the skills to rescue them yourself. And as a last note, remember that trained lifesavers almost never try to rescue someone without a floatation device of some sort. 

The Israel Life Saving Federation wishes everyone a safe and enjoyable swimming experience.