Make Water Safety Your Priority
- Swim in designated areas and be familiar with your surroundings.
- Use the buddy system, even at a public pool or a lifeguarded beach.
- Even if you do not plan on swimming, be cautious around natural bodies of water; cold temperatures, currents and underwater hazards can make a fall into these bodies of water dangerous.
- If you go boating, wear a life jacket! Most boating fatalities occur from drowning.
- Avoid alcohol use. Alcohol impairs judgment, balance and coordination; affects swimming and diving skills; and reduces the body's ability to stay warm.
- While you're enjoying the water, keep alert and check the local weather conditions.
- Actively supervise children whenever around the water, even if lifeguards are present.
- Always stay within arm's reach of young children and avoid distractions when supervising children around water.
- Never leave a young child unattended near water and do not trust a child's life to another child. Teach children to always ask permission to go near water.
- Have young children or inexperienced swimmers wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets around water, but do not rely on life jackets alone.
- Install and use barriers around your home pool or hot tub. Safety covers and pool alarms can be added as additional layers of protection.
- Ensure that pool barriers enclose the entire pool area, are at least 4 feet high with gates that are self-closing, self-latching and open outward and away from the pool. The latch should be high enough to be out of a small child's reach.
- If you have an above-ground or inflatable pool, remove access ladders and secure the safety cover whenever the pool is not in use.
- Remove any structures that provide access to the pool, such as outdoor furniture, climbable trees, decorative walls and playground equipment.
- Keep toys that are not in use away from the pool and out of sight. Toys can attract young children to the pool.
Know What to Do in a Water Emergency
- If a child is missing, check the water first. Seconds count in preventing death or disability.
- Know how and when to call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number.
- If you own a home pool or hot tub, have appropriate equipment, such as reaching or throwing equipment, a cell phone, life jackets and a first aid kit.
- Swimming in open waters takes different skills.
- Have young children or inexperienced swimmers wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets in and the around water.
- Protect your neck and don't dive head-first. Check for depth and obstructions before diving and go in feet first the first time.
- Pay especially close attention to children and elderly persons when at the beach. Even in shallow water, wave action can cause a loss of footing.
- Keep a lookout for aquatic life. Water plants and animals may be dangerous. Avoid patches of plants. Leave animals alone.
- Rip currents are responsible for deaths on our nation's beaches every year and for most of the rescues performed by lifeguards.
- Rip currents can form in any large open water area, such as low spots and breaks in sandbars, or near structures such as jetties and piers.
- Stay at least 100 feet away from piers and jetties. Permanent rip currents often exist near these structures.
- If you are caught in a rip current, stay calm and do not fight the current.
- Swim parallel to the shore until you are out of the current. Once you are free, turn and swim toward shore.
- If you can't swim to the shore, float or tread water until you are free of the rip current and then head toward shore.
- If you feel you can't make it to the shore, draw attention to yourself by waving and calling for help.
- If someone is in trouble in the water, get help from a lifeguard. If a lifeguard is not available, have someone call 9-1-1.Throw the victim something that floats – a lifejacket, cooler, inflatable ball – and yell instructions on how to escape the current.
- When at the beach, check conditions before entering the water. Check to see if any warning flags are up or ask a lifeguard about water conditions, beach conditions or any potential hazards.