Water Safety

Activities in and on the water are a favorite for many during warm-weather months. Even if you’re experienced on/in the water and a strong swimmer, it’s important to know the risks and take sensible precautions to avoid a tragedy. 

Boating safety tips:

  • Take a state-approved boating safety class.
  • Wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket when boating or fishing, even if you don’t intend to enter the water. See video below to learn how to properly fit a life jacket.
  • Don’t consume alcohol or other drugs. Alcohol and other drugs can affect your judgment, vision, balance and coordination, increasing your chance of injury.
  • Be weather-wise. Check your local weather conditions before heading out. TV and radio forecasts are good sources of information. If you notice darkening clouds, rough changing winds or sudden drops in temperature, play it safe by getting off the water.
  • Consider a free vessel safety check. The U.S. Coast Guard offers complimentary boat examinations to verify the presence and condition of certain safety equipment required by state and federal regulations.
  • Designate an assistant skipper. Make sure more than one person on board is familiar with all aspects of your boat’s handling, operations and general boating safety.

Swimming safety tips:

  • Learn to swim. Ensure that everyone in the family learns to swim well. Enroll in age-appropriate swimming courses.
  • Children and inexperienced swimmers should wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket. See video below to learn how to properly fit a life jacket.
  • Watch kids when they are in or around water without being distracted. Keep young children and weak swimmers within arm’s reach of an adult. Assign a Water Watcher.
  • Don’t swim alone. Make sure older children and adults never swim alone, even at a public pool or a beach that has a lifeguard on duty. Always go with a buddy.
  • Obey the signs. Water-safety signs and flags are important hazard warnings. They indicate where safety aids or lifeguards are available.
  • Enter feet first. What may look like deep water can actually be an illusion, leading you into thinking it’s safe to dive in. Always enter the water feet first to check the depth and be aware of any hazards.
  • Swimming in open water is not the same as swimming in a pool. Open water may have uneven surfaces, sudden drop-offs, currents, undertow and limited visibility.
  • Learn basic water rescue skills and CPR. It is important to know how to respond in an emergency without putting yourself at risk of drowning.
  • Parents and teens should understand how using alcohol and drugs increases the risk of drowning. 
  • Wear sunscreen. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Be sure to reapply it as directed and after swimming or sweating.

Learn How to Fit a Lifejacket 


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