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State beaches set to open Memorial Day weekend

As the summer season gets underway, state beaches are opening for the first time this year.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — New York Gov. Kathy Hochul is reminding residents to follow safety tips around water this year. And with the great weather Western New York is set to have for the long weekend, many people may be going out.

"New York has some of the best beaches on the Eastern Seaboard and this weekend is the perfect time to get out and enjoy our state's natural splendor," Governor Hochul said. 

"I encourage every New Yorker to get out this weekend, visit a state park, and experience the beauty of nature with friends and family."

In WNY, Beaver Island and Woodlawn are opening.

People heading out to the beach are encouraged to follow these safety tips:

  • Be proactive.
    • Make sure everyone in your group knows how to swim.
    • Choose bright colors for swimwear. Neon pink and neon orange offer the most visibility for light-bottomed pools. For lakes and dark-bottomed pools, neon green, neon orange and neon yellow are the most visible.
    • Consider learning CPR. In an emergency, every second counts.
  • Be aware of the conditions.
    • Ocean swimming is very different from pool swimming, so be prepared for powerful waves, strong surf and sudden drop-offs.
    • Rip currents usually form near a shallow point in the water, and can happen at any beach with breaking waves, including the Great Lakes. If you are caught in a rip current, try to remain calm and don't fight it. Swim parallel to the shore until you are out of the current, and float or tread water if you begin to tire.
    • Keep away from the water's edge. Jagged, slippery rocks and murky waters can be hazardous.
  • Be aware of the rules.
    • Swim only in designated areas, and only when a lifeguard is on duty. Prohibited swim areas are often accompanied by dangers such as turbulent underwater currents, extreme cold, and widely varying depths. These hazards can put even good swimmers at risk.
    • Choose a swimming spot near a lifeguard for maximum visibility. Always follow their directions and ensure that any children you are swimming with do the same.
    • Watch for warning flags and know what they mean. Green flags usually mark designated swimming areas - be sure to swim between the green flags. Yellow flags may denote a surfing beach or an advisory. Red flags indicate a danger or hazard. Flag designations may vary, so be sure to understand the color coding before you dive in.
  • Be attentive.
    • Always swim sober.
    • If you're swimming with children, designate a "water watcher" who will always keep a close eye on the kids. This person shouldn't be reading, using a phone, or doing anything but observing. Never let children swim unattended.
    • Know the signs of trouble: While we tend to think that swimmers in trouble will be waving their hands and making lots of noise, this may not always be the case. Watch out for people whose heads are low in the water (mouth submerged) or tilted back with mouth open, eyes closed or unable to focus, legs vertical in the water, or who are trying to swim but not making progress.


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