What better way to enjoy the warm weather than by taking a dip in the pool, visiting the seashore or spending the day at a water park. But it’s important for everyone to be safe and the American Red Cross has steps you can take to stay safe while swimming.
Ensure that everyone in the family becomes water competent. That is, learn to swim well, know your limitations and how to recognize and avoid hazards, and understand how to help prevent and respond to emergencies around water.
Adults should actively supervise children and stay within arm’s reach of young children and newer swimmers. Kids should follow the rules.
Fence your pool in with four-sided fencing that is at least four-feet in height and use self-closing, self-latching gates.
Always wear your U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket when on a boat and if in a situation beyond your swimming skill level.
Swim as a pair near a lifeguard’s chair – everyone, including experienced swimmers, should swim with a buddy in areas protected by lifeguards. If in a location with no lifeguards, such as a residential pool, designate a “Water Watcher” to keep a close eye and constant attention on children in and around the water.
If you plan to swim in the ocean, a lake or river, be aware that swimming in these environments is different than swimming in a pool. Be sure you have the skills for these environments.
Swim only at a beach with a lifeguard, within the designated swimming area. Obey all instructions and orders from lifeguards and ask them about local conditions.
Make sure you swim sober and that you always swim with a buddy. Know your limitations and make sure you have enough energy to swim back to shore.
Protect your neck – don’t dive headfirst. Walk carefully into open waters. Watch out for and avoid aquatic life.
If you are caught in a rip current, try not to panic. Signal to those on shore that you need assistance. Swim parallel to the shore until you are out of the current. Once you are free, 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.
WATER PARK SAFETY
Make sure lifeguards are on duty before you go in the water and follow all their instructions.
Read the attraction signs. Obey the rules. Follow age and height requirements.
Wear protective clothing, including a hat and some kind of cover-up for when you’ve had enough sun. Use sunscreen before leaving home and reapply during the day.
Drink plenty of fluids – avoid drinks with sweeteners or caffeine.
Parents – keep an eye on the kids. If they can’t swim or are less than four feet tall, have them wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket.
Signal a lifeguard if you see someone is in trouble. Yell if you need to grab attention, but don’t go in after the person yourself.
Set up a meeting place in case someone gets separated from your group. Use the buddy system to make sure no child is alone.
Watch the weather and get out of the water at the first sign of lightning or the rumble of thunder. Stay indoors and away from water for 30 minutes after the last lightning flashes or thunder roars.
LEARN TO SWIM
Whether you’re going to be in or around the water, it’s important to be water competent. The Red Cross offers swim classes for people of all ages and abilities. Find out more here. We also have a Swim App which promotes water safety education and helps parents and caregivers of young people learning how to swim. The app has features specifically designed for children, including a variety of kid-friendly games, videos and quizzes. Download the app by searching for ‘American Red Cross’ in your app store or at redcross.org/apps.