Learn how to reduce the risks so your family can enjoy swimming in the ocean and open water such as large lakes.Learn how to reduce the risks so your family can enjoy swimming in the ocean and open water such as large lakes.
Top Things to Know
Swim in designated areas with a lifeguard present.
Always swim with a buddy.
Avoid areas with moving water, waves or rip currents.
Stay within your fitness and swimming capabilities.
Swim Classes For the Entire Family
Red Cross swim lessons help children & adults gain water safety and swimming skills. Ages 6 months – adult.
How to Swim Safely in the Ocean or at the Beach
Be Aware of Hazards & Weather
Being water competent in the ocean requires stronger and different skills than in a pool. Whenever you are at the beach, ocean or other open water environment, watch and prepare for:
Fast-moving currents and waves, even in shallow water.
Drop-offs that unexpectedly change water depth.
Unexpected changes in air or water temperature.
Hazards, such as underwater obstacles, rocks and debris.
Vegetation, marine animals and fish.
Other people’s activities in the same waters, such as boating.
Thunder & Lightning.
Leave the water immediately, if swimming off shore.
If you’re out in a boat, head back to shore as quickly as possible.
If you’re unable to get to shore, lie down in the bottom of the boat or shelter in the cabin if available.
Establish and Enforce Rules and Safe Behaviors
Enter the water feet first for your safety!
Always enter unknown or shallow water cautiously.
Only dive in water clearly marked as safe for diving, at least 9 feet deep with no underwater obstacles. Never dive head first into surf!
Do not enter the water from a height, such as a bridge or boat.
Be careful when standing to prevent being knocked over by currents or waves.
Supervise others sober and without distractions, such as reading or talking on or using a cell phone..
Swim with a buddy even in lifeguarded areas.
Take These Water Safety Steps
Employ layers of protection including barriers to prevent access to water, life jackets, and close supervision of children to prevent drowning.
Responsible for most rescues performed by lifeguards, rip currents can form in any large open water area (including the Great Lakes), such as low spots and breaks in sandbars, or near structures such as jetties and piers.
How to Avoid Rip Currents
Check conditions before entering the water: are any warning flags up? Ask a lifeguard about water conditions, beach conditions, and potential hazards.
While in the water, stay at least 100 feet away from piers and jetties. Permanent rip currents often exist near these structures.
How to Escape from a Rip Current
If you are caught in a rip current, stay calm and don’t fight it.
Swim parallel to the shore until you are out of the current. Then, turn and swim to shore.
Alternately, float or tread water until you are free of the rip current and then head to shore.
If you can’t make it to shore, draw attention to yourself by waving and calling for help.
If Someone Else Is Caught in a Rip Current
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 – such as a lifejacket, cooler or inflatable ball – and yell instructions on how to escape the current. Do not attempt a rescue yourself unless you are a trained beach lifeguard.
Help Your Family Be Safe in and Around Water. Swim is the companion to the Red Cross Learn-to-Swim program. This FREE app includes games and videos for kids, plus a swim lesson progress tracker. The app also provides the latest in water safety guidance to help ensure your family stays safe in, on and around water.