Swimming Safety

Unfortunately, drowning is one of the most common reasons for deaths abroad. Safety in the water is extremely important no matter if you are in the lake, ocean, or river. Even some of the most proficient swimmers have experienced an unpleasant water-related incident.

  • Wear water shoes to protect your feet from being cut on rocks and sediments. Infections can occur if coastal waters enter a wound.
  • Inexperienced and experienced swimmers in areas known for unpredictable water patterns or rough waters should wear a life jacket. 
  • Don’t dive headfirst—protect your neck. Check for depth and obstructions before entering the water, and go in feet first.
  • 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 and leave animals alone.
  • Use the buddy system. Many drownings involve single swimmers. When you swim with a buddy, if one of you has a problem, the other may be able to help, including signaling for assistance from others. Swimmers should have someone onshore watching them.
  • Obey the signs and posted flags – really learn and understand what they mean. 
  • Talking to a local can be important, especially if you notice few people in the water. They are the most knowledgeable about their town and/or country.
  • Riptides/currents pose an extreme threat to any swimmer. 
    • If you are caught in a riptide, stay calm and don’t fight the 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 riptide, then head toward shore.
    • If you feel you can’t make it to the shore, draw attention to yourself by waving and calling for help.
    • Stay at least 100 feet away from piers and jetties. Permanent riptides often exist near these structures.
    • If someone is in trouble in the water, get help from a lifeguard. If a lifeguard is not available, have someone call emergency responders. Provide the victim with something that floats – a life jacket, cooler, inflatable ball, etc. and yell instructions on how to escape the current.
    • When at the beach, check conditions before entering the water. Check to see if any warning flags are up or ask a lifeguard about water conditions, beach conditions, or any potential hazards.
  • Do not leave your personal effects unattended while in the water. Keep a close eye on your personal belongings! 
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