This summer, millions of families in America will head to the beach to enjoy some surf, sand and sun. However if you have children, any beach can be dangerous, so it's important for parents to educate themselves on how to keep their kids safe both in the water and out.

Here's how to keep your family safe at the beach this summer, so that you can focus on having fun in the sun:

Watch out for rip currents while swimming

One of the biggest dangers in the ocean are rip currents. Some rip currents can be h2 enough to pull you away from the beach. According to the U.S. Lifesaving Association, 80 percent of ocean rescues by lifeguards involve people caught up in rip current.

When at the beach, teach your kids that if they feel a rip current or think they might be in one, never swim against it. Try to remain calm and swim perpendicular to the current, or parallel to the shore. If you have young kids, make sure they don't go too far into the water and always keep an eye on them in the ocean.

Kids should always wear a life vest

When on a boat or doing water sports, parents need to make sure that kids wear a well-fitted life jacket that is Coast Guard-approved. Life vests on kids should be the proper size and buckled.

The Coast Guard mandates that all children under the age of 13 must wear a life jacket, but many states have their own laws regarding children and life jacket wear. According to statistics reported by the Coast Guard, 78 percent of fatal boating accident victims drowned. Of these drowning victims, 84 percent were not wearing a life jacket. You wouldn't let your kid ride in a car without a seat belt -- same goes for wearing a life jacket on a boat.

Don't let kids swim alone

Teach your children the "buddy system," in that they always swim with a friend or other people. Whether you're at the pool or the beach, swim near the lifeguard stand.

Before you let your kids go into the water, parents should ask the lifeguard about how the conditions are that day. Most drownings occur on beaches where there is no lifeguard present.

Keep a close eye on children

The safest thing parents can do at the beach or in the water is to keep a close watch on their children. Kids can easily wander off by themselves, so set firm rules for your family about beach days and pool time.

As a parent, it's easy to worry about your kids all the time. However, teaching children how to practice smart water safety at the beach and in the pool can go a long way in combating these fears, so that parents too can enjoy fun with the family this summer.

tags: beach , er , pediatrics , summer