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Experts talk water safety ahead of likely busy summer season in the Cape Fear

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CAROLINA BEACH, NC (WWAY) — We are lucky to live with oceans in our backyard, but they can be as dangerous as they are beautiful.

Dr. Phil Brown, executive vice president and chief physician executive at New Hanover Regional Medical Center, says about 10 people drown per day in the U.S., and children aged one to four have the highest drowning rates with African American kids five and half times more likely to drown than white kids.

“A parent or anyone who is watching a child, they really need to watch that child as if that child’s life depends on it because it does,” Brown said.

Brown also serves as vice president of NSea Swim, an organization that teaches basic water safety and provides free swim lessons to children.

“It starts before you get in the water,” Brown said. “Again with that buddy system set up, never ever go alone.”

If you do find yourself in a dangerous situation, Brown says to remain calm and look for the lifeguards.

“The most important thing is to swim near lifeguards and pay attention to weather conditions,” Carolina Beach Ocean Rescue Captain Tony Wallace said.

Wallace echoes Dr. Brown’s advice to remain calm and says to get help as quickly as you can.

“The earlier detection is better,” Wallace said. “So yell, wave your arms the best you can get somebody’s attention.”

Keep your eye on the flags and remain especially careful if the yellow or red flags are flying at the lifeguard stands.

“If you’re stuck in a rip current, naturally you want to swim parallel with the shoreline to get out of the rip if you can, but mainly don’t try to swim to the point that you’re exhausted before you try to get help,” Wallace said.

Carolina Beach Ocean Rescue is holding lifeguard tryouts on May 1 and 2. If you would like to try it out, fill out an application on the Town of Carolina Beach website. Wallace says you must be able to swim 500 meters and run a mile in under 20 minutes.

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