Teaching Water Safety to Youth


Help make your community safer in and around water by teaching water safety outreach! The Red Cross provides educational resources that can be used by anyone to teach water safety by completing a simple orientation to the materials.


For Children: Longfellow's WHALE Tales
WHALE is an acronym for Water Habits Are Learned Early. The Longfellow's WHALE Tales Water Safety for Children program is designed for children from K through 5th grades. It is a dryland-based water safety program with lesson plans focusing on different water safety topics, each about 30 minutes long. This program can be delivered in classrooms or camps. It can also be presented as a single session or a series of lessons.

For Youth and Young Adults: Water Safety Outreach
These lifesaving water safety presentations are designed to be delivered in 30-minute sessions to help educate about general water safety and more specialized topics of home pool, rip current, and sun safety. 


Drowning is the number one cause of death for children between 1 and 4 years old in the United States. It is the second leading cause of injury death for youth under 14 and third for those under 19 years old. The Red Cross believes that teaching water safety education is one way to help reduce drowning incidents. 

How to Get Started

Before conducting any lessons, make sure to familiarize yourself and your team with the material listed below. 

Longfellow’s WHALE Tales

You can access all the course materials via Longfellow’s WHALE Tales Water Safety for Children website.

Each lesson in Longfellow’s WHALE Tales features a robust collection of water safety content and supporting resources designed to engage your participants. They include:

• Administrative Guide – helps you get started and to deliver WHALE Tales programs

• Lesson Plans – includes teaching objectives, list of materials needed

• Course Presentations – colorful visuals that paid with select program activities

• Animations & Videos – each lesson includes one animated and live-action video to reinforce ways to be water-smart

• Posters – each lesson includes a related poster that can be used as a coloring sheet

• Closing Ceremony & Certificates


Water Safety Outreach

Help prepare older youth and adults in your community to be safer in, on, and around the water by teaching our water safety presentations. This lifesaving information is designed to be delivered in 30-minute sessions in any setting. Session topics include General Water Safety, Home Pool Safety, Sun Safety, and Rip Current Safety.

Please fill out the Water Safety Outreach form to obtain access to the following water safety outreach documents.

Your reported participant enrollments help the Red Cross tell your community’s “Water Safety story” and attract funders that support mission-related activities such as our Centennial Campaign.


Other Resources

• Red Cross Swim App: Children and adults can learn to be safer in and around water with Swim by the American Red Cross. Knowing how to swim is exciting and opens the door to many opportunities, but water is not without risk. Learning to enjoy the water safely should be the first step for anyone who will be around water. Children can share what they are learning with their families and friends through the Kids section which features videos and learning activities from WHALE Tales.

Text Swim to 90999 to download the app.


• Cut-Out Longfellow:

Make your own cut-out Longfellow as a fun way to highlight your teaching activities or while demonstrating water safety actions learned in WHALE Tales (e.g., wearing a life jacket when boating). Be sure to coordinate with your advisor and follow all Red Cross policies regarding taking photos of other club members and program participants.

Print the cut-out on card stock paper from redcross.org/WHALETales. Cut it out then affix a fan stick to make your handheld Longfellow.