Learning About Water Safety

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How can you be safe in water?

On hot days, water might feel like the only relief. Even if you're a strong swimmer, it only takes a moment for everything to change. Use these tips to be safe around all types of water.

  • Wear a life jacket, and make sure it fits.

    A safe life jacket has a snug and comfortable fit. Air-filled or foam toys like water wings, noodles, or inner tubes are not a replacement for a life jacket. Your life jacket should be approved by the U.S. Coast Guard. This is often printed on the inside of the life jacket.

  • Learn to swim.

    Enroll in swim lessons through the Red Cross or your local YMCA. Know swimming survival skills, like entering water over your head and returning to the surface, floating or treading water for at least 1 minute, and swimming at least 25 yards. Practice these skills in the types of water you will visit.

  • Avoid alcohol before and during water activity.

    Alcohol can impair your judgment and ability to make quick decisions. Even if you don't plan to swim, avoid alcohol when you're near outdoor water areas such as pools, lakes, rivers, or oceans. Don't drink if you are watching children.

  • Swim with someone you trust.

    Swim with lifeguards present, especially in fast-moving water like oceans. If a lifeguard isn't there, swim with someone you'd trust in an emergency.

  • Always enter the water safely.

    Be careful when you jump into any water. Don't dive or jump into water headfirst. If you're going to jump, enter feet first.

  • Be aware of fast-moving water.

    Lakes, rivers, and oceans can have strong currents or rip currents. If you get caught in a rip current, stay calm and float with it. Swim parallel to the shore until you are free. Don't fight it. After you're free, swim toward shore.

  • Be aware of exhaust from boats and generators.

    Carbon monoxide from boat exhaust can cause you to pass out or drown. Be careful of breathing boat exhaust when you wait at docks, sit near the back of boats, body surf by holding onto the swim platform at the back of a boat, and are near idling motors.

  • Be prepared for any situation.

    Learn CPR, and be prepared for an emergency. In an emergency, call 911 right away. Make sure you are safe before you try to rescue someone else.

Where can you learn more?

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