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Swim and Water Safety Tips

Swimming is a great recreational sport that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. But it’s important to know how to be safe while you’re in the water. The American Red Cross offers these important swimming safety tips you should be aware of before you head out to the pool or beach:

  • Swim in designated areas supervised by lifeguards.
  • Always swim with a buddy; do not allow anyone to swim alone.
  • 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.
  • Maintain constant supervision.
  • Make sure everyone in your family learns to swim well. Enroll in age-appropriate Red Cross water orientation and learn-to-swim courses.
  • If you have a pool, secure it with appropriate barriers. Many children who drown in home pools were out of sight for less than five minutes and in the care of one or both parents at the time.
  • Avoid distractions when supervising children around water
  • If a child is missing, check the water first. Seconds count in preventing death or disability.
  • Have appropriate equipment, such as reaching or throwing equipment, a cell phone, life jackets and a first aid kit.
  • Know how and when to call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number.
  • Protect your skin. Limit the amount of direct sunlight you receive between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. and wear sunscreen with a protection factor of at least 15.
  • Drink plenty of water regularly, even if you’re not thirsty. Avoid drinks with alcohol or caffeine in them.
  • Enroll in Red Cross home pool safetywater safetyfirst aid and CPR/AED courses to learn how to prevent and respond to emergencies..

Water Safety Tips

  • Ensure every member of your family learns to swim so they at least achieve skills of water competency: able to enter the water, get a breath, stay afloat, change position, swim a distance then get out of the water safely.
  • Employ layers of protection including barriers to prevent access to water, life jackets, and close supervision of children to prevent drowning.
  • Know what to do in a water emergency – including how to help someone in trouble in the water safely, call for emergency help and CPR.

Why Is Water Safety So Important?

It only takes a moment. A child or weak swimmer can drown in the time it takes to reply to a text, check a fishing line or apply sunscreen. Death and injury from drownings happen every day in home pools and hot tubs, at the beach or in oceanslakes, rivers and streams, bathtubs, and even buckets. The Red Cross believes that by working together to improve water competency – which includes swimming skills, water smarts and helping others – water activities can be safer… and just as much fun.

 

What Does It Mean to Be Water Competent?

Water competency is a way of improving water safety for yourself and those around you through avoiding common dangers, developing fundamental water safety skills to make you safer in and around the water, and knowing how to prevent and respond to drowning emergencies. Water competency has 3 main components: water smarts, swimming skills and helping others. 

Water Smarts

Take these sensible precautions when you’re around water (even if you’re not planning to swim):

  • Know your limitations, including physical fitness, medical conditions.
  • Never swim alone; swim with lifeguards and/or water watchers present.
  • Wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket appropriate for your weight and size and the water activity. Always wear a life jacket while boating, regardless of swimming skill.
  • Swim sober.
  • Understand the dangers of hyperventilation and hypoxic blackout.
  • Know how to call for help.
  • Understand and adjust for the unique risks of the water environment you are in, such as:
    • River currents.
    • Ocean rip currents.
    • Water temperature.
    • Shallow or unclear water.
    • Underwater hazards, such as vegetation and animals.

Swimming Skills

Learn how to perform these 5 skills in every type of water environment that you may encounter (such as in home poolsoceanslakes, rivers and streams):

  1. Enter water that’s over your head, then return to the surface.
  2. Float or tread water for at least 1 minute.
  3. Turn over and turn around in the water.
  4. Swim at least 25 yards.
  5. Exit the water.

Helping Others

These actions will help your family avoid emergencies – and help you respond if an emergency occurs: 

  • Paying close attention to children or weak swimmers you are supervising in or near water.
  • Knowing the signs that someone is drowning.
  • Knowing ways to safely assist a drowning person, such as “reach or throw, don’t go”.
  • Knowing CPR and first aid

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