- Department of Conservation & Recreation
- Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs
- Massachusetts State Police
- Department of Public Health
Media Contact for State Officials Urge Public to Take Water Safety Precautions
Olivia Dorrance, Press Secretary
BOSTON — As temperatures continue to climb and more people visit waterbodies for a break from the summer heat, the Baker-Polito Administration is urging the public to take additional water safety precautions while swimming. Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Kathleen Theoharides joined Massachusetts State Police (MSP) Colonel Christopher Mason, Massachusetts Environmental Police (MEP) Colonel Shaun Santos, Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) Commissioner Jim Montgomery, and elected officials at Pleasure Bay Beach in Boston to remind the public of the dangers associated with swimming and provide water safety tips. Additionally, DCR announced a pay increase for lifeguards to encourage more individuals to apply and reflect the important job DCR’s lifeguards do to protect the public.
“Every year, Massachusetts waterfronts and state-managed pool facilities experience high numbers of visitors seeking swimming opportunities for fun and exercise,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “However, it is incredibly important that we all, regardless of age and skill level, remain conscious of the very real dangers water can present and practice safe swimming precautions to avoid a tragedy.”
“From Wollaston Beach to Chicopee State Park, there are excellent waterfronts and facilities across the Commonwealth that offer many ways for children their families, teenagers and adults to cool off this summer,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “Whether at your local neighborhood pool or a coastal beach, we urge all visitors to stay vigilant, swim safely and watch children closely at all times.”
Safety tips to adhere to when swimming include:
- Swim within DCR’s designated swimming waterfronts. These areas are clearly marked with ropes and buoys. Swimming outside of the designated swimming areas can be dangerous;
- Swim in the buddy system and always tell someone where you are going;
- Keep a close eye on children near the water. Parents and other guardians serve as the first and primary line of safety for their children;
- Teach children to always ask permission before going near the water;
- Avoid consuming alcohol or drugs;
- Drink lots of water;
- Don’t dive headfirst into the water;
- Do not swim during a storm or when there is lightning;
- Make sure you know how to swim. If you can’t swim, keep to shallow areas or use a U.S. Coast Guard-guard approved life jacket;
- Don’t swim beyond your skillset;
- If caught in a rip current, don't swim against it. Swim parallel to the shoreline to escape it, and then at an angle toward the beach;
- When in a boat, wear a US Coast Guard approved life jacket;
- And if a person in your group goes missing, check the water and notify lifeguard and park staff.
“This time of year serves as a great opportunity to explore Massachusetts’ many waterfronts, but as is clear from the tragic number of water-related accidents the Commonwealth has seen so far this year, it is critical that all visitors be diligent about water safety to help keep everyone safe,” said EEA Secretary Kathleen Theoharides. “The health and safety of Massachusetts residents and visitors is the Baker-Polito Administration’s top priority, and we are continuing and increasing efforts to inform the public about dangerous places to swim at state parks, as well safe, fun alternatives to swim and cool off.”
“Summer is here and this highly-anticipated season is bringing more and more people to DCR waterfronts, where we all must be diligent in our efforts to ensure a fun, safe visit,” said DCR Commissioner Jim Montgomery. “We ask that all visitors heed park signs, staff direction, and today’s water safety recommendations. Additionally, DCR continues to interview, train, and hire candidates to serve as agency lifeguards throughout the state, and we are proud to announce that we are increasing pay for these incredibly important members of our staff.”
As part of DCR’s commitment to the safety of beachgoers and appreciation for the agency’s lifeguard staff, DCR has announced a $3 pay increase for all DCR lifeguards, who will now receive $20 per hour, or $21 per hour for head guards. Additionally, lifeguards who remain committed for the entire season with DCR will also receive a $500 bonus at the end of the season. DCR lifeguards are professional rescuers who are trained to prevent injuries, and respond in the event of an emergency to help save a life. As part of a team, lifeguards must work together calmly and efficiently to manage crisis situations.
“We know that most drownings occur in the Summer months, particularly July and August,” said Acting Public Health Commissioner Margret Cooke. “Drowning is swift and silent — there may be little splashing or cries for help and it can take as few as 20 seconds to sink below the water. It is so important to learn to swim as early as possible, to only swim where swimming is allowed, and to follow safety tips while enjoying water whether around a pond, lake, river, ocean, or pool this summer.”
“The range of victims whose losses we have endured in the last few weeks shows that water-related tragedies play no favorites. From an infant in Wrentham, to two boys in Brockton, to an adult male earlier this week in Shrewsbury, to the teenager who drowned last night in Turtle Pond in Hyde Park, to Police Officer Manny Familia, who made the ultimate sacrifice trying to save another teenage boy in a Worcester pond – among numerous other victims – every drowning incident has left loved ones and friends with irreparable holes in their hearts and their lives,” said Massachusetts State Police Superintendent Colonel Christopher S. Mason.
“The American Red Cross has developed a variety of water safety and Learn-to-Swim programs that our aquatic training providers offer. Programs are available for a variety of ages and abilities including our Parent and Child Aquatics and Preschool Aquatics courses. Many providers also offer courses for adults,” said Chief Executive Officer for the American Red Cross of Massachusetts, Holly Grant.
DCR continues to actively recruit individuals to become a lifeguard at its inland and coastal waterfronts, and deep water swimming pools in the Boston Region (including Cambridge and the surrounding towns), the North Region (specifically Saugus, Nahant, and East Boston), the South Region (specifically Sandwich and Westport), and the Central Region (Metro West to Worcester County).
In order to be considered for a DCR lifeguard position, applicants must be at least 16 years of age, completed lifeguard training, and certified in first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Furthermore, candidates must be able to complete the following:
- Timed 500 yard swim; and,
- Recover 10lb object in 9-12 feet of water.
Please note, all interested candidates must register with DCR aquatics staff to be placed in the appropriate course before arriving. Interested individuals can apply online and are strongly encouraged to call Jim Esposito at (857) 214-0400 or visit the DCR’s lifeguarding webpage, application information, and lifeguard requirements can be found.
DCR offers free Learn to Swim programs at 12 locations statewide starting on Monday, July 5, 2021, for people of all ages. For information about lessons, please visit the agency’s website and call your local facility. Additionally, many YMCAs across the Commonwealth offer swimming lessons for children, teens and adults. If you live in the Boston area, view the list of YMCA Boston swim classes. If you live outside Boston, please visit the Alliance of Massachusetts YMCAs' “Find Your Y” website to locate a YMCA near you. Furthermore, the American Red Cross offers swimming lessons for children, teens and adults at several of its locations in Massachusetts, as well. The Red Cross also offers a wide selection of CPR/AED, first aid, lifeguarding, swimming and water safety, caregiving, disaster response, and emergency preparedness training. Visit the Red Cross for the “Learn to Swim” provider list and select Massachusetts for more information.