American Red Cross Swimming Safety Tips

Adult vigilance, safety tips, swimming lessons and our swim app can help reduce drowning

Temperatures are up and vacation season is here, which means thousands of families will be headed to their favorite beach, pool or lake to cool off this summer. Swimming is a great way to beat the heat, but constant, active adult supervision and ensuring that everyone learns to swim is critical for preventing injuries and drownings.

Unfortunately, adults and children lose their lives in the water every summer. Approximately ten people die from unintentional drowning every day, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. It is also the leading cause of injury deaths for children between one and four.

Basic water safety skills, adult vigilance and swimming lessons can prevent these tragedies. Making good choices around the water can be the difference between life and death, and the American Red Cross is keeping vigilant watch to ensure friends, family and neighbors swim safely this summer.

Follow these tips to make sure everyone stays safe around the water.

  1. Do your part, be water smart! Make sure your friends, family, children and neighbors know how to swim well.
  2. Enclose your outdoor pool with a four-sided, four-foot fence with a self-latching gate.
  3. Always wear a life vest when you’re on a boat or in a situation beyond your swimming skill level. Even though water wings and inflatable toys are fun for children, they do not count as effective life vests.
  4. Always go swimming with a buddy in front of an area that lifeguards watch.
  5. During emergency situations, know when to call 911. Know how to do CPR. When someone is in trouble, know how you can help without putting yourself in danger.

Water Competency: More than half of Americans either can’t swim or don’t have basic swimming skills, according to a survey conducted by The American Red Cross. To prevent accidents and injuries while swimming, we recommend learning these basic water competency skills. These exercises are performed sequentially, and include the following:

  1. Jump or step into water that’s over your head.
  2. Return to the surface. Tread water for one minute.
  3. Rotate in a full circle before finding an exit.
  4. Swim 25 yards towards the exit.
  5. Leave the water. If you’re in a pool, be able to exit without using your ladder.

Make sure you can swim well enough to perform each of these skills. If you or a family member cannot, find a Red Cross Learn-to-Swim class in your area to improve.

The Red Cross swim lessons teach people water safety behaviors and skills to help them feel comfortable and safe when around water. To find age-appropriate Learn-to-Swim and water-orientation programs, contact your local aquatic facility and ask for American Red Cross swimming and water safety programs. You can also visit

Swim App: Our Swim App helps parents teach children how to swim. It also promotes the importance of water safety education with kid-friendly features like games, quizzes and videos. This app can be downloaded for free in their app store or at

Home Pool Essentials Course: Together, the American Red Cross and National Swimming Pool Foundation developed an online safety course for hot tub and pool owners. Home Pool Essentials teaches people about the risks surrounding pool ownership, preventing pool and hot tub entrapment hazards, maintaining a safer and cleaner pool, appropriate safety equipment and how to respond during an emergency. Visit: for more information.

By: Meghan Garrity

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