Water Safety: 6 Important Tips for Summer Swimming

Swimming is one of summer’s greatest joys, whether it’s at a pool, beach, waterpark, or lake.

But as we dip our toes into swim season, it’s important to be aware of water safety and the risk of drowning. First, these facts from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • More children ages 1–4 die from drowning in the United States than any other cause of death
  • For U.S. children ages 5–14, drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury death after motor vehicle crashes
  • There are an estimated 4,000 fatal unintentional drownings (an average of 11 drowning deaths per day) in the U.S. each year
  • There are an estimated 8,000 nonfatal drownings (an average of 22 nonfatal drownings per day) in the U.S. each year
  • Nearly 40% of drownings treated in emergency departments require hospitalization or transfer for further care (compared with 10% for all unintentional injuries)
  • Drowning injuries can cause brain damage and other serious outcomes, including long-term disability

Death and injury from drownings happen every day, in home pools, wading pools, hot tubs, oceans, lakes, rivers, streams, bathtubs, and even buckets.

What Can We Do?

Drownings are often preventable. Here’s how:


Learn to Swim

little boy learning to swim with coach
  • According to a research study conducted by the American Red Cross in 2020, 56% of kids ages 4-17 cannot perform the basic water safety skills they need to save their own life.
  • The best thing anyone—children and adults—can do to stay safe in and around the water is to learn to swim.


Supervise closely

African-American fitness coach working in swimming pool
Standing guard
  • Designate a responsible adult to supervise closely and constantly when children are in or near water (including bathtubs)
  • Drowning happens quickly and quietly, so avoid distracting activities like reading or using the phone
  • After swim time is over, shut and lock doors that give access to water
  • Adults should supervise children closely even when lifeguards are present
Keep watch
  • Never swim alone or in unsupervised places, and teach children this important rule


Read the signs

pool safety sign
  • Follow posted safety rules and warnings
  • Beaches or public lakes and waterways may fly flags warning of unsafe water, or issue warnings due to weather, wildlife, or contamination
  • When a lifeguard blows a whistle to clear the pool or stop unsafe actions, pay attention


Know your limits

swimming far from shore
  • Don’t overestimate your swimming skills
  • Even good swimmers can get too tired, too cold, or too far from shore, which can lead to trouble


Wear a life vest

wearing a life vest
  • If you or a family member is a weak or non-swimmer or if you are in an open water environment, wear a coast guard approved life vest
  • But experts suggest not using air-filled swimming aids (such as “water wings”) in place of life jackets or life preservers with children
  • These inflatable toys can give parents and children a false sense of security


Don’t drink n’ swim

alcohol and swimming
  • The CDC reports that among adolescents and adults, alcohol use is involved in up to 70% of deaths associated with water recreation
  • Alcohol impairs balance, coordination, and judgment, and it increases risk-taking behavior, so avoid alcohol before or during swimming, boating, or other water-related activities
  • Never drink alcohol while supervising children around water
  • Teach teenagers about the danger of drinking alcohol while swimming

Beachless Swimming

Waterparks are a popular summer escape, too. The World Water Park Association offers these reminders:

  • Use sunscreen. Apply sunscreen on all exposed skin to ensure maximum skin protection. Hats, visors and shirts are recommended to prevent overexposure.
  • Follow age, health and height instructions. Restrictions apply to many rides and attractions at pools and waterparks. Guests with neck or back problems, heart conditions, prevalence toward motion sickness or pregnancy should not ride high-speed or rapid-descent rides.
  • Use plastic swim diapers. Many pools require them. Note where changing areas are located and use these designated, sanitized changing spots.

Quick word about water…

Finally, a quick word about water safety not related to drowning. Drinking pool water (or even lake or seawater) is a really bad idea. It can be contaminated with germs that can make you sick. Teach children to keep water of their mouths when they swim, and dry your ears when you are finished swimming. If you or your child has been sick with diarrhea in the past two weeks, stay out of the water.

  • Maxine Wagner
    Posted at 21:24h, 29 June

    I don’t swim but good to know.

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