Swimming is a great way for the whole family to get active. Follow these tips to stay safe in and around the water.
- Swim near a lifeguard and never swim alone.
- Don’t drink alcohol if you are swimming or watching children swim.
- Use floating toys like water wings and noodles for fun – not for safety. Don’t use them in place of life jackets.
- Watch out for rip currents. A rip current is when the water pulls you away from shore. If you get caught in a rip current, swim along the shoreline until you are out of the current, then swim to shore.
Take a class.
- Take swim lessons if you don’t know how to float, tread water, and swim.
- Sign your kids up for swim lessons as soon as they are ready – this can be as early as age 1.
- Learn CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). Your skills could save someone's life.
Watch children carefully.
- Drowning happens quickly and quietly. Make sure at least 1 adult is always watching when children are in or around the water, even if they know how to swim.
- Don’t read or use the phone while you are watching young children.
Make sure pools are safe.
- If you have a pool, install a 4-sided pool fence that’s at least 4 feet high to separate the pool from the house and yard.
- Use self-closing and self-latching gates that open outward and are out of reach of children. That way, kids can’t get near the water when you aren’t watching them.
Check water and weather conditions before going swimming.
- Get out of the water right away if you hear thunder or see lightning. Strong winds can also be dangerous.
- Learn the meaning of colored safety flags used at the beach and obey all warnings.
- Don’t swim in the ocean, lakes, or rivers after heavy rain. Water is more likely to be polluted after a rain storm.
- Check for signs or warnings about bacteria or other pollution in the water before swimming.
Protect yourself and others from germs in the water.
- Try not to get water in your mouth.
- Make sure everyone is clean before swimming. Shower with soap. Wash your hands after using the bathroom or changing diapers.
- Take your kids on bathroom breaks or check diapers often. Change diapers in a bathroom or a diaper-changing area.
Protect your skin from the sun.
- Wear plenty of sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 15.
- Put on more sunscreen every 2 hours and after swimming or sweating.
Content last updated January 30, 2020
This content on swimming safely was adapted from materials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention
National Center for Injury Prevention and Control
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention