Wherever possible, find a beach that is patrolled – be prepared (www.findabeach.co.nz) and stay between the flags. Listen to the advice of lifeguards or locals. Always keep a very close eye on children in or near the water. Get a friend to swim with you – never swim or surf alone. Watch out for that rip – rips are calm, deep patches of water close to shore that can sometimes have waves breaking to the side. Look for rippled, discoloured or foamy water. Don’t overestimate you or your children’s ability to cope in the conditions. Even waist deep water can be life threatening if you step in a hole or get hit by a large wave.