The American Red Cross Scientific Advisory Council experts share insights on the five key basic water safety skills.
The warm weather is here and people everywhere are looking forward to having fun in and near water. The American Red Cross wants to ensure that everyone becomes water competent – that they are ‘water smart,’ have swimming skills and know how to help others.
Children and adults should at a minimum achieve the skills of water competency: be able to enter the water, get a breath, stay afloat, locate an exit, swim a distance and then get out of the water safely.
CIRCLE OF DROWNING PREVENTION
Layers of protection are essential to help prevent drowning. Plan ahead for aquatic activities:
Provide close and constant attention to children you are supervising in or near water
Fence pools and spas with adequate barriers, including four-sided fencing
Learn swimming and water survival skills
Children, inexperienced swimmers, and all boaters should wear properly fitted U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets;
Always swim in a lifeguarded area.
If you plan to swim in the ocean, a lake or river, be aware that swimming in these environments is different than swimming in a pool. Be sure you have the skills for these environments.
Swim only at a beach with a lifeguard, within the designated swimming area. Obey all instructions and orders from lifeguards and ask them about local conditions.
Make sure you swim sober and that you always swim with a buddy. Know your limitations and make sure you have enough energy to swim back to shore.
Protect your neck – don’t dive headfirst. Walk carefully into open waters. Watch out for and avoid aquatic life.
If you are caught in a rip current, try not to panic. Signal to those on shore that you need assistance. Swim parallel to the shore until you are out of the current. Once you are free, 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.
You can find more water safety information, including how to respond to a water emergency, here.
Check out our swim lessons information here.
Have a home pool? Visit our pool safety information here.
Consider enrolling your children in a Red Cross Longfellow’s WHALE Tales class, which raises children’s awareness of safe behavior in, on or around the water! See more details here.
DOWNLOAD OUR APPS
The Red Cross Swim App promotes water safety education and helps parents and caregivers of young people learning how to swim. The Red Cross First Aid App puts instant access to information on handling the most common first aid emergencies at your fingertips. Download the free Red Cross Emergency App to receive emergency weather alerts as well as locations of open Red Cross shelters. Download these apps for free by searching for ‘American Red Cross’ in your app store or at redcross.org/apps. Learn First Aid and CPR/AED skills so you’ll know what to do until help arrives.
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.