News | Published June 24, 2013

The Red Cross gives tips on water safety

Now that the warm weather has arrived, there's nothing like swimming to help cool off on a hot summer day. Whether you are taking a dip in the pool, or spending the day at the beach, the American Red Cross urges everyone to make water safety a priority over the holiday weekend and throughout the summer season.

"With so many families planning to visit beaches and pools, it's important for parents to make water safety a priority," says Scott Conner, senior vice president for preparedness and health and safety services for the Red Cross. "Learn how to swim and take water safety, first aid and CPR/AED training so you'll know what to do in an emergency."

The Red Cross offers these safety steps to help ensure a fun-filled, safe time while you're swimming:

Summer and swimming go hand in hand:

  • Swim in designated areas supervised by lifeguards.
  • Always swim with a buddy; do not allow anyone to swim alone.
  • Never leave a young child unattended near water and do not trust a child's life to another child.
  • Teach children to always ask permission to go near water.
  • Have young children or inexperienced swimmers wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets around water, but do not rely on life jackets alone.
  • Maintain constant supervision, and avoid distractions when supervising children around water.
  • Make sure everyone in your family learns to swim well. Enroll in age-appropriate Red Cross water orientation and learn-to-swim courses.
  • If you have a pool, secure it with appropriate barriers. Many children who drown in home pools were out of sight for less than five minutes and in the care of one or both parents at the time.
  • If a child is missing, check the water first. Seconds count in preventing death or disability.
  • Have appropriate equipment nearby, such as reaching or throwing equipment, a cell phone, life jackets and a first aid kit.
  • Know how and when to call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number.
  • Enroll in Red Cross water safety, first aid and CPR courses to learn how to respond to emergencies.

Ocean-fun calls for special safety tips:

  • Learn to swim, especially in the surf.
  • Swim only at a lifeguard-protected beach, within the designated swimming area. Obey all instructions and orders from lifeguards.
  • Never swim alone.
  • Be cautious at all times and check local weather conditions.
  • Swim sober.
  • Make sure to wear a Coast Guard approved life jacket.
  • Don't dive headfirst, protect your neck. Check for depth and obstructions before diving. Go in feet first the first time.
  • Stay at least 100 feet away from piers and jetties. Permanent rip currents often exist near these structures.
  • Pay especially close attention to children and elderly persons when at the beach. Even in shallow water, wave action can cause a loss of footing.
  • Keep a lookout for aquatic life. Water plants and animals may be dangerous. Avoid patches of plants. Leave animals alone.
  • Make sure you always have enough energy to swim back to shore.

Rip currents are responsible for many lives lost on our nation's beaches every year, and for most of the rescues performed by lifeguards. For your safety, be aware of the danger of rip currents and remember the following: If you are caught in a rip current, swim parallel to the shore until you are out of the current. Once you are free, turn and swim toward shore. If you can't swim to the shore, float or tread water until you are free of the rip current and then head toward shore.

As the temperatures soar, more and more of us will take to the water for some summer sun. For more information on Red Cross swim courses, or on how to you and your loved ones safe this summer, visit

Source: American Red Cross