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  • Millions of children missed the opportunity to participate in formal swimming lessons last season due to the pandemic, creating an urgent need for water safety training and swim lessons this summer. TEAM WLSL™ is getting back on deck to send the message Swimming Lessons Save Lives™ to help prevent childhood drowning and teach families how to Be Water Aware.  
  • The 2021 World’s Largest Swimming Lesson will offer hundreds of aquatic centers, swim schools and waterparks the chance to focus in on the urgency of getting kids back in the water for formal swim lessons to help make up for the lessons and water safety training they missed in 2020.
  • What is exciting about the WLSL event is that so many organizations and individual aquatic facilities are coming together to make it happen. The WLSL helps capture all the passion we have for this critical issue as individuals and focuses all that energy on one message for one day.
  • Drowning is a public health crisis. In the U.S., it’s the leading cause of accidental death for kids ages 1-4 and the second leading cause for kids 14 and under. Yet, a large percentage of adults don’t recognize this risk or provide the right layers of protection to prevent drowning.
  • Internationally, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that drowning is the 3rd leading cause of unintentional injury death worldwide, accounting for 7% of all injury-related deaths. 
  • According to a 2020 research study conducted by the American Red Cross, more than half (54%) of U.S. kids ages 4-17 are not able to perform the basic water safety skills that can save their life.
  • More drowning and near drowning incidents take place in the U.S during the month of June than any other month of the year.
  • According to a 2018 report from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), from 2015 through 2017, an estimated average of 6,400 children younger than 15 years old were reportedly treated in hospital emergency rooms for nonfatal drowning injuries in pools or spas.
  • Nearly 80% of drowning victims are male.  Also, African-American children ages 5 to 19 drown at rates 5.5 times higher than Caucasian children. This disparity is greatest among those 11-12 years where African Americans drown in swimming pools at rates 10 times those of Caucasians.
  • Drowning is predictable, incredibly fast and quiet: Most children who drown are out of sight for less than 5 minutes. Drowning can occur in as little as two minutes and victims do not signal for help. In addition, 70% of drownings happen during non-swim times.
  • Research shows participation in formal swimming lessons by kids ages 1-4 can significantly reduce the risk of drowning, yet many children still do not participate in formal water safety training or swimming lessons.
  • The World’s Largest Swimming Lesson was created in 2010 as a platform to support public education about safer water practices and to build awareness about the critical importance of teaching children to swim to help prevent drowning. 
  • Since its inception, more than 320,000 children and adults have participated in life-saving WLSL lessons, generating more than two BILLION media impressions about the vital importance of learning to swim. 
  • TEAM WLSL™ has set five multi-venue and three single venue Guinness® World Records since the program began in 2010.

TEAM WLSL™ is on a mission to make sure every parent understands the critical importance of teaching kids to swim and how to Be Water Aware to prevent drowning.

Show your support by sharing this important message.

HUNTINGTON BEACH, CA:  Drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death in children aged 1 – 4 years and the majority of the children that drown in swimming pools most commonly gain access to the pool area when there is no fence or through a faulty fence or gate.  

Combined with constant child supervision and other layers of protection, a possible solution to this issue is physically checking your pool gate and maintaining your pool gate regularly to ensure it self-closes and self-latches at all times. You should not be able to open a gate at all without activating the release mechanism which should be out of the reach of toddlers. 

D&D Technologies®, the inventor and manufacturer of the MagnaLatch® Pool Safety Gate Latch and the world leader in high-performance gate hardware, has partnered with the National Drowning Prevention Alliance (NDPA) to establish a Check Your Pool Gate Month campaign kicking-off Memorial Day Weekend and continuing through the month of June.  The initiative was created to remind pool owners of the vital need to ensure pool fences, gates, latches and hinges are secure and in top working order.  Every pool owner should be confident they have a safe swimming zone.  

“Our aim with Check Your Pool Gate Month is to educate pool owners about pool safety and to encourage them to check their pool surroundings not once a year, but regularly,” says Jim Paterson, D&D’s VP of Sales and Marketing.

A few minutes is all it takes for pool owners to check that their pool fences and gates, including latches and hinges, are in good working order.  If you can’t fix it call your local contractor to service your gate and ensure the gate is secured while waiting. This simple routine done regularly could help save the life of a child.  

Safety checklist for pool gates

  • Should open outwards, away from the pool
  • Height of latch release mechanism is least 54” from the bottom of the gate (check local codes)
  • Must be self-closing and self-latching
  • Hinges should be rust-free and bind-free
  • Hinges should be reliable and tension-adjustable for closing speed
  • Latch must be adjustable horizontally and vertically to accommodate gate movement
  • Gate will latch when latch is in the locked or unlocked position
  • Latch cannot be disengaged using implements (e.g. garden or pool tools)
  • Latch cannot be shaken or jolted open
  • Gate will shut and latch securely from any open angle or force
  • Complies with all applicable standards, codes and legislation for pool safety

For more information on pool safety and compliance visit:  www.us.ddtech.com/pages/pool-safety-compliance and www.ndpa.org

It’s critical to check your local pool codes for compliance, as local codes may vary. 

D&D Technologies gate hardware can be purchased on Amazon or at Home Depot or Lowes.

About D&D Technologies 

D&D Technologies is the recognized leader in safety and high-performance gate hardware, providing the broadest range of gate hardware for every application.  D&D Technologies produces over 300 gate hardware products and has 30 years of experience in the gate hardware industry.  Products include MagnaLatch® magnetic pool and safety gate latches, TruClose® adjustable, self-closing safety gate hinges, LokkLatch® gate latches, SureClose® and Shut It industrial hinges.  D&D’s diversity of products continually set new standards in design, performance, craftsmanship and innovation–tied together by a top level of quality and service.  D&D products are rust free and consistently exceed all relevant safety barrier codes around the world for the residential, commercial and industrial markets.

People and organizations in the drowning prevention and water safety space are well aware of the limitation of drowning statistics. Drowning data is not universally collected or classified mainly due the sheer nature of drowning which makes counting on reliable data extremely difficult. Few organizations have taken on the task to gather and distribute data pertaining to drowning and Total Aquatics Programming LLC is currently one of the most well known, respected and reliable sources.

Total Aquatic Programming and National Drowning Prevention Alliance Board of Directors have joined together to improve the “The Drowning Report” data. 

TAP has been collecting drowning data since 2008. This process involves about 1100-man hours per year plus cost for programs and support. They have recently faced the following challenges which have impelled them to rethink and reconsider the process in order to be more effective:

  • Some of the thousands of websites visited to gather report data have now  started charging subscription fees. While these are only .99 cents a week, they add up over the period of a year. 
  • Due to the number of sites consulted to gather information and download reports, TAP has been exposed (multiple times) to viruses and have had to move to enterprise grade protection. 
  • TAP users have requested many features that the organization was not able to offer before and is currently preparing to do: possibility of custom reports, online searchability features, ease of access and more.

It is time for TAP LLC to update the way they not only collect but also present the data gathered. This has a cost that they cannot totally absorb, and after talking to many users it is too important to just lose! They are nearly ready to move to a subscription-based model with an cost of $99.95 per year that will offer subscribers all the information they are used to plus:

  • Report filtering options
  • Custom reports (emailed on a customer set schedule)
  • Ability to submit drownings (requires approval)
  • Online and accessible 24/7 – no more waiting for the first of the month
  • Enhanced field logic
  • Alert notifications (new drownings in your area)
  • Much, Much More!

The new membership model will become effective by June 2021 with May 2021 featuring the last free version of drowning reports. NDPA premium members & all partners will be able to access the new database through their existing NDPA membership.

We hope this is a valuable service that you will continue to use. The new features will also allow members to more easily extract local data and customize reports.

Sign up is coming soon so be on the lookout!

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states the sad fact that more than 3,500 people drown each year in the U.S, making drowning the leading cause of death in children 1 – 4 years old. Even more sad, minorities drown at a rate three times higher than their peers.

Diversity is directly linked to the opportunity to be water safe. As we are well aware, aquatics suffers from lack of diversity, enforcing a system where the access to learning how to swim and gain water competency are not the same for everyone.

Between 1999-2010, the fatal unintentional drowning rate for African Americans was significantly higher than that of whites across all ages. The disparity is widest among children 5-18 years old and is most pronounced in swimming pools. African American children 5-19 drown in swimming pools at rates 5.5 times higher than those of whites. This disparity is greatest among those 11-12 years in which African Americans drown in swimming pools at rates 10 times those of whites.(1)

Factors such as access to swimming pools, the desire or lack of desire to learn how to swim, and choosing water-related recreational activities may contribute to the racial differences in drowning rates. Available rates are based on population, not on participation. If rates could be determined by actual participation in water-related activities, the disparity in minorities’ drowning rates compared to whites would be much greater.(2)

Many organizations and advocates are striving to bring swimming to minority communities and thus reduce the incidence of drowning among them. Here are a few that you can support:

Diversity In Aquatics 

The drowning and participation gaps in aquatics mirror the disparities we find in public health and education, often ignoring the ongoing historical issues of race, socioeconomic circumstances, and cultural stereotyping. Therefore, a revamped focus is needed to address and help curve the current gaps found in aquatics.

Founded by Dr. Shaun Anderson and Jayson Jackson in 2010, Diversity In Aquatics is an organization built to develop a network to help save lives by empowering communities to have equitable access to quality aquatic opportunities. They work to address historical policies and practices that impact resource allocation and access to public spaces to understand present-day aquatic disparities.

Afroswimmers

AfroSwimmers is a swim movement that offers lessons and aquatic wellness services for people of color, founded by swim coach and aquatic healer Noelle Singleton.

AfroSwimmers boasts a facility in Atlanta where programs — including competitive coaching, aquatic therapy, and private swimming lessons — are offered to help break down barriers between the Black community and swimming.

Black People Will Swim

Black People Will Swim’s sole mission is plain and simple: it’s smashing the stereotype that Black people don’t swim. Their end game is to make a difference in the world of aquatics.

They aim to do this through a number of ways with their acronym F.A.C.E. encouraging their community to FACE their fears.

Swim Uphill

Founded by paralympic swimmer Jamal Hill, this organization has made it its mission to take justice against senseless drownings by promoting water safety competency through the Swim Uphill method in underserved communities around the globe.

Black Kids Swim

Black Kids Swim is a 501c3 organization based in Prince George’s County, Maryland. Their mission is to increase Black participation in the sport of competitive swimming. They also offer their consultancy services to aquatic facilities that wish to include a diverse group of adults and/or children to their programs.

The Josh Project

The Josh Project is a drowning prevention agency dedicated to water safety training and education. Their mission is to build basic swimming skills and knowledge of water safety to prevent drowning.

SwemKids

SwemKids is nonprofit school-based program that teaches children introductory swimming lessons and water safety skills as a part of their school’s curriculum. This model ensures that children are exposed to the water early and gain important life-saving skills to make sure they are safe while having fun!

Black Swimming Association

The Black Swimming Association (BSA) is a non-profit organisation set up to promote education among the Black community as well as other ethnic minority communities on water safety and drowning prevention measures.

They strive to ensure that the issues that preclude these communities from engaging in aquatics are researched, understood and  adequately addressed to promote inclusion and change.

  1. Gilchrist J, Parker EM. Racial/ethnic disparities in fatal unintentional drowning among persons aged ≤29 years—United States, 1999–2010. MMWR 2014;63:421–6.
  1. Branche CM, Dellinger AM, Sleet DA, Gilchrist J, Olson SJ. Unintentional injuries: the burden, risks and preventive strategies to address diversity. In: Livingston IL, editor.  Praeger handbook of Black American health (2nd edition): Policies and issues behind disparities in health. Westport (CT): Praeger Publishers; 2004. p. 317-27.

Education and knowledge is the key for everything and definitely something we should focus on in 2021. 

According to the CDC, an average of 10 fatal drowning incidents happen in the USA every day and is the leading cause of unintentional injury deaths for children 1-4 years, the second leading cause of unintentional injury deaths for children 1-14 years, and is the fifth leading cause of unintentional injury deaths for all ages in the United States.  The WHO has reported that drowning is the 3rd leading cause of unintentional injury death worldwide, accounting for 7% of all injury-related deaths. 

This makes drowning a very serious issue that should be addressed throughout the year in order to avoid and prevent fatal and non-fatal drowning incidents. The beginning of a new year is the best time to plan exactly how we can do this in the form of water safety resolutions.

Here are ten to get you started:

1.- Implement layers of protection at home

The term “layers of protection” is one used to classify the majority of strategies directly affecting aquatic environments. Parents, caregivers, residential pool owners, aquatic facility owners, managers and operators should use “layers of protection” to provide a system of increased security to prevent unauthorized access to bodies of water, especially important for children. This means that multiple strategies or devices are used constantly and simultaneously.

Learn more about how to implement them here.

2.- Practice water safety at home

  • Never leave your child alone in the bathtub—even for a moment. Many bathtub drownings happen (even in a few inches of water) when a parent leaves a small child alone or with another young child. Also, bath seats are just bathing aids. Bath seats can tip over and your child can slip out of them, so they won’t prevent drowning.
  • Empty water from containers, such as large pails and 5-gallon buckets, immediately after use.
  • Keep bathroom doors closed. Install door knob covers or a hook-and-eye latch or other lock that is out of the reach of your small child.
  • Keep toilets closed. Always close the toilet lid, and consider using a toilet lid latch.

Find more ways to be water safe at home in our blog post Home Water Safety Tips.

3.- Teach your children about water safety

Families have always played a vital role in teaching kids how important it is to learn to swim and behave safely in and around the water. If your child isn’t able to take formal swim lessons right now, you can still help them learn to be safer around backyard pools, ponds or other natural bodies of water.

These are some great resources to help you get started.

4.- Actively support the NDPA to promote water safety and drowning prevention all year long.

The mission of the National Drowning Prevention Alliance is to reduce the incidence of drowning and aquatic injuries in the US and abroad. United, we can reach our goal of 0 drownings.

Whether you join or support the alliance in other ways, you can empower your communities to take more action, touch more lives, and make an even greater difference. Check out 5 Ways You Can Support The NDPA for more ideas.

5.- Promote water safety and ways to prevent drowning in your community.

Find information, actions and resources to get your community involved in water safety advocacy efforts whether they be in person or online at the NDPA Resource Center.

6.- Enroll your children in swimming lessons.

Swim skills add a layer of protection to prevent drowning incidents. Formal swimming lessons reduce the risk of drowning among children 1-4 years by 88%. This is the only sport that can actually save lives and can also reduce the risk of drowning among older individuals.

Learn more about Swimming Lessons As A Layer Of Protection To Prevent Drownings.

7.- Learn CPR with rescue breaths. Compression-only CPR does not treat drowning.

Anyone who lives in a home with a pool should learn CPR and rescue breathing. CPR training and certification should be refreshed every one to two years, depending upon the certification agency, or more frequently if there have been recent changes in recommendations.

Along with learning CPR, there are other layers of protection that you should learn which are intended to minimize injury should a child gain access to the water and are meant to be used immediately in the event of such an emergency.

8.- Invest in a life vest for each member of the family.

A properly fit life jacket is a very effective life-saving strategy in the quest to reduce the number of fatal drowning incidents in the country. Learn more about it here.

9.- Register for the 2021 National Water Safety Conference

The conference is a great fit for anyone involved in child safety advocacy, injury prevention, safety education, water safety, drowning prevention, first response, public health, public policy, aquatics, and many more areas!

This year the #NWSC2021 will be offered from March 29 to April 1, 2021 in a virtual format. It will include a range of different activities including hosted virtual networking sessions, live general sessions and keynote addresses, interactive sessions, pre-recorded breakout educational sessions, and so much more. The best part of a virtual conference – no travel, hotel, and expenditure costs. Get ALL the education from the comfort of home!

Register now!

10.- Join the NDPA Water Safety Warriors Group!

The NDPA has the goal of bringing everyone who has a vested interest in drowning prevention and water safety together. This way, we can provide education and resources to prevent drowning and aquatic injury by making water safer to enjoy.

By providing this space to connect to each other, access to the most current information, and share resources to help  be more effective in our efforts, we are sure can reach our goal to end accidental drownings!

Just click to join!

Drowning is a complex problem. To be effective, organizations need to leverage their strengths and work together to have the greatest impact.

The NDPA can help you make those connections and to have the greatest impact.  Join the alliance and empower your communities to take more action, touch more lives, and make an even greater difference.

Become An NDPA Member

By becoming an NDPA member (Basic or Premium) you or your organization will be contributing to the NDPA’s overall mission to prevent drowning and gain access to resources that advance drowning prevention. Drowning IS Preventable, and with your membership and support, we can work together to help save lives.

Become An NDPA Partner

Organizational partners of the NDPA are the backbone of our organization. The National Drowning Prevention Alliance is very excited to partner with your organization or company and work together for the common goal of ZERO drownings. As the NDPA starts a new phase of growth as an organization we welcome the opportunity to seek out new partners that will be help the NDPA on this journey to provide educational resources, increase water safety, and expand our impact towards water safety and drowning prevention for people of all ages and walks of life.

Become An NDPA Sponsor

There are a number of ways you can help support the work of the NDPA and our annual conference. To learn more about sponsorship opportunities, please download and view our annual sponsorship guide or our annual major gift guide 

Make The NDPA Your Amazon Smile

Make the NDPA your Amazon Smile and each time you make an eligible purchase on Amazon the NDPA will receive a percentage of your purchase total as a donation. It’s as simple as clicking the link below to make the NDPA your Amazon Smile. Shop and support the NDPA at the same time!

Make a Donation

The NDPA also relies on donations from our members, friends, and supporters to continue our work. With your support we can continue to bring people, groups, and leaders together to prevent drownings. Remember our mission – “Together WE can PREVENT the tragedy of drowning!”

Learning is a continuous process that is incredibly important in the water safety space, allowing us to stay up to date on current news, research and numbers. Learning not only happens in traditional settings such as workshops and training courses, but also through discussions with colleagues, sharing practical experience, and consulting newsletters, books, published research papers and audiovisual materials. 

The NDPA Resource Center strives to improve access to relevant information by collecting, categorizing and organizing materials that are useful to all members of the aquatics industry and drowning prevention advocates.

This new and exciting tool contains the following features:

  • NDPA Partner Directory
  • Drowning Prevention & Water Safety Resource Directory
  • Sharable Drowning Prevention Social Media Content
  • Resources for Task Forces & Coalitions
  • An Index of Drowning Prevention & Water Safety Literature containing over 300 entries
  • An Index of over 60 Regional, State, and National Water Safety, Drowning, and Injury Databases
  • NDPA & National Water Safety Conference Media Library

and so much more exclusively for NDPA Members.

Basic members enjoy the following benefits:

  • Use of the NDPA Member Logo.
  • Listed in NDPA Member directory.
  • Receive ALL NDPA Communications including the newsletter.
  • Free access to resources from the NDPA and our Partners.
  • Show your clients, friends, and family that you are part of the alliance to prevent drowning.
  • Task Force & Coalition Resources
  • Advocacy Information
  • Over 100 shareable drowning prevention social media images, infographics, and videos.

The following are the benefits reserved for Premium members:

  • $50 off 1 conference registration at Early Bird or Regular Rate.
  • Use of NDPA Member Logo.
  • Newsletter and communication subscription.
  • Free access to resources from the NDPA and our Partners.
  • Prime listing in NDPA Member directory.
  • Show your clients, friends, and family that you are part of the alliance to prevent drowning.
  • All Basic Member Benefits
  • NDPA Member & Partner Directory Access
  • Access to our Drowning Literature Directory that includes an index of over 300 research studies, reports, and other literature.
  • Access to our Drowning Data Hub that provides easy access to over 60 drowning and injury databases from across the United States.
  • Access to the NDPA Premium Video library that includes all past NDPA Webinars, select conference presentations, and more!

Teaching kids, teens and even adults how to be safe near and in the water as well as what to do if anything ever goes wrong is paramount to prevent unintentional drowning incidents, both fatal and non-fatal.

The following programs have been designed to offer proper guidance in the matter and can be added to any school or homeschool curriculum.

Stop Drowning Now

The Safer 3 in the classroom

Stop Drowning Now’s Water Safety Curriculum teaches kids how to recognize drowning risks and to protect themselves and others. The Curriculum is specifically designed for young kids’ learning needs. Through an experiential approach, kids participate in the discovery and identification process, and learn preventative measures as well as emergency responses.

Water Safety With Colin & Friends

Water Safety With Colin & Friends is a comprehensive water safety education tool. The classroom-based curriculum focuses on 5 key rules that can help children make safer choices around all types of water, such as waiting for an adult before going in or near water and wearing a life jacket. The full kit includes activities like songs, water safety games, and even a science experiment. The program is evidence-based, continues to be evaluated for efficacy, and has been proven with statistical significance to increase children’s water safety knowledge!

Kidshealth In The Classroom

KidsHealth in the Classroom by Nemours offers educators free health-related lesson plans for PreK through 12th grade. Each Teacher’s Guide includes discussion questions, classroom activities and extensions, printable handouts, and quizzes and answer keys all aligned to National Health Education Standards.

For water safety educational resources search under Personal Health.

Josh The Otter Water Safety & Awareness Project

Drowning is preventable. Teach this life-saving message.


Demonstrate the importance of water safety with Josh the Baby Otter. This guide will help you educate young children about drowning prevention through a fun and interactive classroom activity.

Water Smart Education Toolkit

Curriculum materials to teach Water Safety have been developed by Royal Life Saving Australia together with education resource specialists, teachers and water safety instructors.

The teaching resources in the Water Smart education toolkit outline appropriate learning outcomes and have taken into consideration the new Australian National Curriculum for all years from Foundation to Year 10. The key components of the resource toolkit include Units of Work, Teachers Notes, Activity Sheets, Safety Tips and Supplementary Resources.

Curriculum Swimming and Water Safety Resource Pack

Swim England and the Swim Group have created a resource pack for all those involved in the delivery of curriculum swimming and water safety.

The resource pack has been split into four to provide dedicated information for each  group. Each section provides practical guidance on how to plan, deliver and report on curriculum swimming and water safety.

Water Safety Resources 

Teachers Pay Teachers is a great database for educators to find the resources, knowledge, and inspiration they need to teach at their best. They offer more than 3 million free and paid resources, created by educators who understand what works in the classroom and have a great selection of water safety materials that can be used in the classroom for kids from PreK to 12th grade.

Water safety resources for teachers

Water Safety for Kids

The American Red Cross offers resources to help your child learn about water safety while having fun in and around water.

The ultimate goal of the following events is to bring together professionals and supporters from all aspects of aquatics and drowning prevention to network, advocate, educate, improve, and expand the entire industry in the country.

World Aquatic Health Conference

The World Aquatic Health Conference is the industry’s leading educational conference on aquatics. Celebrating its 17th year, WAHC 2020 will continue the tradition of disseminating cutting edge science relevant to all segments of the pool and spa market.

Join virtually on October 15-16 to experience cutting-edge aquatic research presented by industry experts across the globe and network with like-minded professionals, industry leaders and experts.

USSSA National Conference

Come together virtually September 15-17, 2020 with top notch industry speakers, fellow members, industry partners, and friends at this year’s USSSA National Conference! The agenda is comprised of live sessions, on-demand sessions, and interactive workshops. 

Although this year’s conference is different than years past, it is not one to be missed! 

WWA 40th Anniversary Symposium & Trade Show

Join fellow waterpark owners, operators, developers, designers and suppliers for the WWA’s 40th Anniversary Symposium & Trade Show, October 6-9, 2020, at Caesars Forum Conference Center & Harrah’s Las Vegas in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.A.

The trade show will be located at the all new Caesars Forum Conference Center, which is located behind the High Roller in the LINQ Promenade area. The headquarters hotel will be Harrah’s Las Vegas, which is connected to the Caesars Forum Conference Center.

The WWA Show continues to be the water leisure industry’s most popular market place for the waterpark industry, as it offers the following opportunities for professional growth and development. To review complete details about the show or to register, click below. 

The International Pool, Spa and Patio Expo

The International Pool | Spa | Patio Expo, co-located with DeckExpo (PSP/DeckExpo), is reimagining this year’s event.

The decision to transition the event was not reached easily, however, based on feedback and the support of the community, the organization felt it was the right choice for their partners, sponsoring associations, attendees, and exhibitors. The virtual event will be hosted over the same dates, November 11 – 13, with registration opening later this fall. 

If you have an event the NDPA should be aware of, let us know in a comment!

Lakes, beaches and rivers are popular destinations for families during the summer season. It’s the best way to have some fun family time and remain cool as soon as temperatures rise but it’s not without risk.

Most children in the U.S. drown in open water which includes natural bodies of water such as lakes, rivers, and oceans as well as man-made bodies of water like canals, reservoirs, and retention ponds. In 2016, open water drownings made up 43 percent of fatal childhood drownings.*

Beaches are a favorite destination during the summer months

The first thing needed to prevent drowning incidents when in open water is learning how to swim which has proven to be a lifesaving skill that can reduce the chances of drowning by 88%. Following the tips below will also ensure you have the most amount of fun by reducing the risks and hazards that come with open water.

1.- Swim in a designated swimming area
Most state parks, beaches, and lakefront areas have designated times where swimming is allowed and use flags to indicate borders in which people can swim. Never swim outside those defined areas. Also, preferably swim under the supervision of a qualified lifeguard.

2.- When in doubt, get out
Don’t hesitate to get out of the water if something doesn’t feel right. Whether it’s that the current is getting rough, rain has started to fall or your body is just not responding like you would like it to due to fatigue or muscle cramps, then just leave and return to the water another day. It’s always a good thing to trust your instincts.

3.- Know the conditions
Check the water temperature and weather conditions before hitting the water. If the water temperature is low, your best option would be to swim with a wetsuit and don’t stay too long in the water. Bear in mind it’s not safe to swim in the rain, particularly if there is thunder and lightning. If the weather changes, don’t hesitate to swim back shore.

4.- Never Swim Alone
When you head out into the open water, go with a “swim buddy”, someone who’s looking out for you and who you’re looking out for in turn. Remember the lifeguard isn’t your “swim buddy”; they have lots of people to track when on duty and cannot be concerned with a particular person’s safety. Besides, you’ll probably have more fun swimming with a friend.

5.- Choose the right equipment
It’s very important to always choose the right equipment for your open water activity: wetsuits if the water is cold, goggles if swimming, and so on. Please note that if water temperatures are over 75-80 degrees, a wetsuit might not be a good idea. Using one for extended periods could cause heat exhaustion.

6.- Understand currents
Uncontrollables are all part of experiencing the ocean and open bodies of water. Rip tides, other currents and waves can all sweep you away from your swimming route. By choosing a static “beacon” on your boat or at the shore you’ll be able to determine if you are being swept away or not. If you do get caught in a riptide, don’t panic. Try to remain calm and swim parallel to shore to get out of it. If you try to swim against the current, you might get exhausted and really panic even more.

7.- No Alcohol
Alcohol affects your perception of danger, making you more likely to take unnecessary risks. Alcohol also impairs your balance and coordination – all essential for swimming and boating and avoiding hazards in the water. So don’t drink while in the water.

8.- Wear USCG-approved life vest
Young children, weak swimmers and everybody in general should wear life jackets whenever they are in, on or around the water, even at a pool or a waterpark. It should be put on at the dock, deck or shore and not taken off until you return to dry land.

9.- Have A Plan For Emergencies
Always have a plan to handle and face emergencies whenever you go out to the water with a swim buddy or alone. Tell someone else where you are going. Having someone watching from the shore, ready to take action should you need any help, is a wise decision. Plan for every possible incident and eliminate as much uncertainty as possible.

10.- Swim parallel to the shore
If ever caught in a rip current, don’t let fear cloud your judgement. You could be swept away from shore very quickly. The best way to escape a rip current is by swimming parallel to the shore instead of towards it, since most rip currents are an average of 100 feet wide. Try to relax and breathe keeping your head above water, and don’t wear yourself out by trying to get out of the rip by swimming against the force of the current.

*Source: Hidden Hazards: An Exploration of Open Water Drowning and Risks for Children. Safe Kids Worldwide. May 2018.