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Water Safety

Summer brings many fun festivities — backyard barbeques, games at the ballpark, and running through sprinklers in the front yard to beat the heat. Summer also marks the start of swim season, and the American Red Cross wants to make sure your family stays safe at the beach and at the pool.

General Water Safety Tips

  • Learn to swim. The best thing anyone can do to stay safe in and around the water is to learn to swim. Always swim with a buddy; never swim alone. The American Red Cross has swimming courses for people of any age and swimming ability. To enroll in a swim course, contact your local Red Cross chapter.
  • Swim in areas supervised by a lifeguard.
  • Read and obey all rules and posted signs.
  • Children or inexperienced swimmers should take precautions, such as wearing a U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal floatation device (PFD) when around the water.
  • Watch out for the dangerous “toos” — too tired, too cold, too far from safety, too much sun, too much strenuous activity.
  • Set water safety rules for the whole family based on swimming abilities (for example, inexperienced swimmers should stay in water less than chest deep).
  • Be knowledgeable of the water environment you are in and its potential hazards, such as deep and shallow areas, currents, depth changes, obstructions, and where the entry and exit points are located. The more informed you are, the more aware you will be of hazards and safe practices.
  • Pay attention to local weather conditions and forecasts. Stop swimming at the first indication of bad weather.
  • Use a feet-first entry when entering the water.
  • Enter headfirst only when the area is clearly marked for diving and has no obstructions.
  • Do not mix alcohol with swimming, diving or boating. Alcohol impairs your judgment, balance, and coordination, affects your swimming and diving skills, and reduces your body's ability to stay warm.
  • Know how to prevent, recognize, and respond to emergencies.

Home Pools

  • Never leave a child unobserved around water. Your eyes must be on the child at all times. Adult supervision is recommended.
  • Install a phone by the pool or keep a cordless phone nearby so that you can call 9-1-1 in an emergency.
  • Learn CPR and insist that baby-sitters, grandparents, and others who care for your child know CPR.
  • Post CPR instructions and 9-1-1 or your local emergency number in the pool area.
  • Enclose the pool completely with a self-locking, self-closing fence with vertical bars. Openings in the fence should be no more than four inches wide. The house should not be included as a part of the barrier.
  • Never leave furniture near the fence that would enable a child to climb over the fence.
  • Always keep basic lifesaving equipment by the pool and know how to use it. Pole, rope, and personal flotation devices (PFDs) are recommended.
  • Keep toys away from the pool when it is not in use. Toys can attract young children into the pool.
  • Pool covers should always be completely removed prior to pool use.
  • If a child is missing, check the pool first. Go to the edge of the pool and scan the entire pool, bottom, and surface, as well as the surrounding pool area.

Above content provided by the American Red Cross in partnership with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. For advice about your medical care, consult your doctor

Posted June 2013

Contact Information

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
330 Brookline Avenue, Boston, MA 02215
Main Switchboard: 617-667-7000
Find a Doctor: 800-667-5356
Directions by Phone: 617-667-3000
TDD (for hearing impaired): 800-439-0183