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At the water's edge

Keep this in mind when swimming

The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) offers the following tips to stay safe External Site near water:

  • Supervise young children. They must be watched at all times when near water. It takes only a little water and a matter of seconds for a child to accidentally drown when an adult turns away. 
  • Learn to swim. Formal swimming lessons can help prevent all people, but especially young children, from drowning. It’s never too late to learn.
  • Learn CPR. It can take paramedics several minutes to arrive. Having CPR skills can mean the difference between life and death or permanent brain damage.  
  • Use the buddy system. Always pair up when swimming, and only swim in areas that have lifeguards on duty, if possible. 
  • Avoid alcohol. Drinking alcohol while on a boat or swimming in the water can severely impair a person's judgment. Never consume alcohol while supervising children around water. 
  • Use life jackets. When on a boat, make sure the number of (Coast Guard-approved) life jackets matches the number of passengers, and that they are easily accessible. Young children should have a life jacket on at all times when on a boat or in the water.
  • Do not use air-filled or foam toys as safety devices. These toys are not substitutes for life jackets and are not designed to keep swimmers safe. 
  • Know weather conditions. If strong winds or heavy thunderstorms and lightning are rolling in, get out of the water and find shelter immediately. 
  • Watch for waves and rip currents near the ocean. If you're caught in a rip current, swim parallel to shore. Once free of the current, swim toward the shore.

Drowning fast facts

  • Every day, about 10 people die from drowning.
  • Potentially half of all boating deaths might be prevented by the use of life jackets.
  • Drowning is the second-most common cause of accidental death in children ages 1 to 14 (just behind motor vehicle accidents).
  • Drowning was the leading cause of death from an injury for those 1 to 4 years of age.

"If you're at the pool and someone is missing, check the water first. Every second counts. If you suspect a swimmer is struggling, ask. If that person is unresponsive or responds with a blank stare, immediate help is needed."

Molly Charley, director of aquatics at TrailPoint Aquatics and Wellness

Do you know what drowning looks like? Know these signs to think like a lifeguard and prevent water accidents.