Water safety, not at the pool

As we embark on No. 4 in our series of water-safety articles, we look at swimming safely in lakes, streams, rivers and the ocean.

Water and weather preparedness:

  • Plan your trip by getting the forecast and knowing where you’ll be enjoying your waterborne activities. Approved swim area? Lifeguards on duty?  

Keep an eye out for:

  • Unexpected changes in air or water temperature.

  • Fast-moving currents, waves and rapids, even in shallow water.

  • Hazards such as dams, rocks, debris floating on top of the water or on the bottom. Never dive head first into an unknown body of water.

  • Aquatic life and underwater vegetation.

  • Sudden drop off, ledge or change in water depth.

  • Other people around you including boats.

Water safety at the waterfront:

  • Ensure everyone knows how to swim. Tragically, the news has reported that non-swimmers have gotten into the water and in trouble already this season.

  • Swim in designated areas with lifeguards.

  • Keep children under constant supervision. Do not get distracted. A one-minute text message could mean the difference between a good day at the lake and a family tragedy.

  • Use U.S. Coast Guard-approved flotation devices for non-swimmers or weak swimmers. Do not depend on water wings or inflatable toys.

  • Always swim with a buddy. (The Boy Scouts have used this system for over 75 years and it works!)

If someone is missing:

  • Check the water first. Every second counts.

  • Alert the on-duty lifeguard.

  • Don’t wait. Have someone call 9-1-1.

If someone is in trouble in the water:

  • Use the reach-throw method. Reach with a pole or other long-handled device or throw a buoy or other inflated device.

  • Only go in if you are a trained water rescue person/lifeguard or if you can stand up in the body of water with your head above the water line. A drowning victim will very often pull their rescuer under resulting in a double drowning.


  • Anyone watching children who are in or around water must understand that drowning happens quickly and suddenly. Never take your eyes off of those you supervise, not even for a moment.

  • Any source of water is a potential drowning hazard especially for young children and weak swimmers.

  • It’s a known fact that people can drown in as little as three inches of water.

  • Know how to respond to a swimmer in distress and get everyone to swimming lessons.

  • Drowning is not limited to the pool, pond, lake or the ocean. It happened in bathtubs, hot tubs and even 5 gallon water pails.

For more information on water safety and drown prevention, go to: http://rdcrss.org/1UKMhLF or http://bit.ly/23rJLPt.