Make Water Safety A Priority This Summer

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Five-year-old Torie of Westfield enjoys learning swim skills with Samantha of the Jewish Community Center of Central New Jersey during the World's Largest Swimming Lesson on June 20 in Scotch Plains.

Families need to make sure that both adults and children have the knowledge and skills they need to be safe in and around the water.

More than 40 swimmers at The Jewish Community Center of Central New Jersey in Scotch Plains joined swimmers around the world participating in The World's Largest Swimming Lesson on June 20.  The World's Largest Swimming Lesson aims to bring awareness to the importance of teaching swim to help prevent drowning.

The American Red Cross is encouraging families to make water safety a priority this summer.  

“As we all gear up for trips to the pool, beach, rivers and lakes, we're asking that adults here in New Jersey make water safety a priority this summer,” said Mathieu Nelessen, regional CEO, American Red Cross North Jersey Region. “Families need to make sure that both adults and children have the knowledge and skills they need to be safe in and around the water.”

A recent national survey shows that people believe they are better swimmers than they actually are. The survey, conducted for the Red Cross, found that while 80 percent of Americans said they could swim, only 56 percent of the self-described swimmers can perform all five of the basic skills that could save their life in the water. 

These critical water safety skills, also known as “water competency,” are the ability to: 

1. Step or jump into the water over your head; 
2. Return to the surface and float or tread water for one minute; 
3. Turn around in a full circle and find an exit; 
4. Swim 25 yards to the exit; and 
5. Exit from the water. If in a pool, be able to exit without using the ladder.

The survey found while just four in ten parents of children ages 4-17 report that their child can perform all five basic swimming skills, more than nine in 10 (92 percent) say that their child is likely to participate in water activities this summer.

TAKE A CLASS The Red Cross programs help people of various ages and abilities learn how to swim and be safe around the water. The courses combine swimming instruction with a strong emphasis on drowning prevention and water safety.

The Red Cross also offers professional lifeguard, water safety instructor, and lifeguarding instructor courses. To find classes for you and your family, contact your local aquatic facility and ask for American Red Cross programs.

For pool and hot tub owners the Red Cross and National Swimming Pool Foundation have developed an online safety course. Home Pool Essentials helps people understand the risks of pool ownership, how to maintain a safer and cleaner pool, what safety equipment is appropriate, how to prevent pool and hot tub entrapment hazards and how to respond to an emergency.

DOWNLOAD THE SWIM APP. The Red Cross Swim App aims to promote water safety for parents and caregivers of young people learning how to swim. Features of the app include a progress tracker for goals achieved in swimming lessons, stroke videos and performance charts to help with proper techniques, “Help your Child Progress” activities that reinforce what is covered in lessons in addition to water safety and drowning prevention information for parents on a variety of aquatic environments.

People can download the app for free in the Apple App Store, Google Play Store for Android or Amazon Kindle Store by searching for American Red Cross or by going to The Swim App is not a substitute for learning how to swim. Parents can contact their local pool, aquatic facility or park and recreation department and ask for Red Cross swim lessons. 

Additional water safety tips are available at

The national public opinion survey was conducted for the Red Cross April 17-20, 2014 using ORC International’s Online CARAVAN omnibus survey. The study was conducted among a national sample of 1,024 American adults, including 201 parents of children aged 4-17. The total sample is balanced to be representative of the US adult population in terms of age, sex, geographic region, race and education.  The margin of error for the total sample of 1,024 adults is ±3.1 percent; the margin of error for the sample of 201 parents is ±6.9 percent.