Staying safe in oceans, lakes, rivers, and ponds

Learn how to stay safe when swimming in ponds, lakes, and other natural bodies of water.

Swimming is a fun and healthy way to beat the heat — as long as you are prepared and do it in a safe place. Massachusetts is home to many lakes, ponds, oceans, and other natural bodies of water. Keep these tips in mind when you're planning a visit.

Safety tips for natural bodies of water

Natural bodies of water are more dangerous than they look because there may be:

  • Steep drop-offs that can take you by surprise
  • Invisible currents that can sweep you away or tire you out
  • Tree limbs, plants, rocks and other obstacles that you can get stuck on
  • Cold water that can shock your system and impair your ability to react
  • More distance to reach that island than you think
  • Poor visibility in the water, which can make it hard for you to see where you are and for other people to see you

Stay safe when visiting any natural body of water:

  • Look for signs that say "No Swimming." If you see a sign, do not go into the water past your ankles.
  • Call 911 immediately if you think someone is drowning.
  • Do not try to rescue someone from the water unless you are trained in water rescue.
  • Always swim with a buddy and swim in locations with a lifeguard when possible.
  • Ask someone in your group to stay sober, out of the water, and alert while keeping an eye on other people in the water.
  • Learn more about water safety and how you can keep everyone safe.

Water Safety Infographics

Water Safety videos

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