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Swimming is one of life's great pleasures. It offers many health and fitness benefits, cools you off in the summer, and provides a great opportunity to socialize with family and friends. Make sure you and yours stay safe in the water by being water aware.


Learn to swim

Swimming Lesson Save Lives.™ The best thing anyone can do to stay safer in and around the water is to learn to swim. This includes both adults and children. Note: The American Academy of Pediatrics now supports swimming classes after the age of 1 if the child is emotionally and developmentally ready.

Never leave children unattended

Parents are the first line of defense in keeping kids safe in the water. Never leave children unattended near water, not even for a minute. If your child's in the water, you should be too! Constant, undistracted supervision and barriers such as pool fencing are necessary even when children have completed swimming classes.

Read all posted signs

Follow posted safety rules and warnings. Teach kids that being safe in and around the water is a personal responsibility - yours and theirs.

Never swim alone or in unsupervised places

Teach your children to always swim with a buddy.

Wear a life jacket

If you or a family member is a weak or non-swimmer, wear a Coast Guard-approved life vest. It's nothing to be embarrassed about and many facilities provide them at no charge.

Look for lifeguards

It is always best to swim in an area supervised by lifeguards, but remember, lifeguards are the last line of defense when all other layers of protection fail.

Don't drink alcohol

Avoid alcoholic beverages before or during swimming, boating or engaging in other water-related activities. Never drink alcohol while supervising children around water. Teach teenagers about the danger of drinking alcohol while swimming or boating.

Spit it out

Teach kids not to drink the pool water. To prevent choking, never chew gum or eat while swimming, diving or playing in water.

Avoid water wings

Do not use air-filled swimming aids (such as "water wings") in place of Coast Guard-approved life jackets or life preservers with children. Using air-filled swimming aids can give parents and children a false sense of security, which may increase the risk of drowning. These air-filled aids are toys and are not designed to be personal-flotation devices, as they can deflate or be punctured.

Check the water depth

The American Red Cross recommends 9 feet as a minimum depth for diving or jumping.

Watch out for the dangerous "too's"

Don't get too tired, too cold, too far from safety, exposed to too much sun or experience too much strenuous activity. Don't take chances by overestimating your swimming skills.

Note the weather

Pay attention to local weather conditions and forecasts. Stop swimming at the first indication of bad weather.

Use sunscreen

Apply sunscreen on all exposed skin to ensure maximum skin protection. Hats, visors and shirts are recommended to prevent overexposure.

Use plastic swim diapers

Many parks require them. Note where changing areas are located and use these designated, sanitized changing spots.


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