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Water safety for everyone

Tips for people of all ages to stay safe in and around water

Swimming is a fun activity and a great way to keep cool, but it’s important to know how to stay safe in and around water. Drowning is swift and silent — there may be little splashing or cries for help. It can take as few as 20 seconds to sink below the water and only minutes to drown whether around a pond, lake, river, ocean, or pool. Learn how you can keep your family, especially children, safe and prevent drownings.

Tips

Water safety for children

  • Always supervise children in and around water at all times
  • Make sure an adult is within arm’s length when supervising children in and around water
  • Avoid distractions while supervising children, even when a lifeguard is present (i.e., reading, texting, talking on the phone, drinking alcohol)
  • Designate an adult “water watcher” to supervise children. Being a water watcher means avoiding any distractions, even for a moment. If in a large group of adults, create a schedule of water watchers.
  • Choose swimming sites that have lifeguards when possible. A lifeguard is there to enforce rules, scan the area, and provide rescue intervention, and should not replace adult supervision.
  • Even if your child knows how to swim, always supervise them when they are in or around water
  • For children who cannot swim, use a U.S. Coast Guard-guard approved life jacket. Don’t use air-filled or foam toys, such as "water wings," "noodles," or inner-tubes, in place of life jackets. These toys are not designed to keep swimmers safe, and can give children a false sense of ability.
  • Teach kids that it is dangerous to play rough or climb on each other in the water
  • Make sure you and your child know how to swim. View our Learn to Swim! page to find swimming lessons near you.
  • Learn CPR and basic water rescue skills

Water safety for all ages

  • Learn how to swim. If you can’t swim or aren’t a strong swimmer, keep to shallow areas or use a U.S. Coast Guard-guard approved life jacket.
  • Swim with a buddy and never alone, even if you are a strong swimmer
  • Swim in designated areas with a lifeguard present
  • Always wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket when in a boat
  • Don’t drink alcohol or use drugs before and while swimming, boating, or supervising children
  • Don’t dive or jump into water that is not at least 12 feet deep. Enter the water feet-first and never dive head-first into a river, lake, or pond. You can severely injure your head and neck, and potentially drown.
  • Don’t swim during a thunderstorm or when there is lightning. During lightning storms, seek shelter away from metal objects, open areas, and large, lone trees.
  • Don’t swim in an area with strong moving currents in the water. Depth, currents, underwater debris and water temperature change constantly in rivers, lakes, and ponds.
  • Keep a cellphone nearby and know where you are in case you need to call for help

Pool safety

  • Install a four-sided pool fence that completely separates the house and play area of the yard from the pool area.
  • Consider additional barriers, such as automatic door locks or alarms, to prevent access or notify you if someone enters the pool area
  • When children are done swimming, remove floats, balls, and other toys from the pool so that children are not tempted to reach for them
  • Secure the pool so children cannot get back in
  • Keep rescue equipment (such as a shepherd's hook or life preserver) and a phone by the pool in case of an emergency

Learn more about responsible pool ownership here.

Natural bodies of water (oceans, ponds, lakes, rivers)

  • Know the weather conditions and never swim or boat in an area with strong moving currents in the water
  • Don’t swim during a thunderstorm or when there is lightning. During lightning storms, seek shelter away from metal objects, open areas, and large, lone trees.
  • Make sure everyone wears a US Coast Guard approved life jacket while in a boat

Learn CPR

The Red Cross offers a wide selection of CPR/AED, first aid, lifeguarding, swimming and water safety, caregiving, disaster response and emergency preparedness training. Find information on classes.

For more information, call us at (617) 624-6060.

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