Swimming Safety Tips

Home & Family, Kids, Outdoors
on July 8, 2007

In the heat of summer, nothing compares to a day of swimming. Whether you’re at a pool, a lake or the ocean, here are some important tips to ensure that your next trip to your favorite swimming spot is filled with safe fun in the sun.

  • Learn how to swim. “The best thing anyone can do to stay safe around the water is to learn to swim,” says Don Lauritzen, who trains lifeguard instructors for the American Red Cross in Washington, D.C. Nearly 2 million people of all ages and abilities learn to swim every year through Red Cross programs.
  • Never swim alone. Stay in areas supervised by a lifeguard and always swim with a buddy, no matter how strong your abilities may be. Read and obey all rules posted in the area. Only dive in areas that are clearly marked and free from obstructions.
  • Watch children closely. Flotation devices will not prevent a child from drowning, so keep inexperienced young swimmers within arm’s reach. Choose U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets, but don’t allow their use to create a false sense of security.
  • Be prepared. Pay attention to weather forecasts and the possibility of severe weather. Never enter the water when it’s lightning or when waves are dangerously high. Learn how to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation through your local hospital or American Red Cross chapter. Also, keep a first-aid kit and cell phone handy.
  • Help, but don’t endanger yourself. You can help a struggling swimmer by throwing a buoy attached to a towrope or by extending a pole with a life hook, and then pulling them safely out of the water. “You should never endanger yourself by going into the water and swimming out to the person if you’re not trained to do so, obviously because you could become a victim yourself,” Lauritzen says.