Skip to Main Content

8 water safety tips to prevent drowning

When temperatures soar, it can be tempting to cool off in a pool, river, or lake but taking a few precautions before taking the plunge can prevent a tragedy.  According to the Centers for Disease Control,  about 11 people die each day from drowning in the United States, and more children ages 1–4 die from drowning than any other cause of death except birth defects. 

Drowning happens in seconds and is often silent. It can happen to anyone, any time there is access to water. Follow these eight water safety tips to prevent drowning.

Learn basic swimming and water safety skills

Formal swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning. Children who have had swimming lessons still need close and constant supervision when in or around the water.

Build fences that fully enclose pools

Construct and use a four-sided fence that fully encloses the pool and separates it from the house, with self-closing and latching gates.

Also, remove all toys from the pool area that might attract children to the pool.

Supervise closely

Designate a responsible adult to supervise closely and constantly when children are in or near water (including bathtubs). Adults watching kids in or near water should avoid distracting activities like reading, using the phone, and consuming alcohol or drugs because drowning happens quickly and quietly.

Wear a life jacket

Life jackets reduce the risk of drowning while boating for people of all ages and swimming abilities. Life jackets should be used by children for all activities while in and around natural water. Life jackets can also be used by weaker swimmers of all ages in and around natural water and swimming pools. Do not rely on air-filled or foam toys, as these are not safety devices.

Learn CPR

Your CPR skills could save someone’s life in the time it takes for paramedics to arrive. Many organizations such as American Red Cross and American Heart Association offer CPR training courses, both online and in-person.

Know the risks of natural waters

Lakes, rivers, and oceans have hidden hazards such as dangerous currents or waves, rocks or vegetation, and limited visibility. 

Avoid alcohol

Avoid drinking alcohol before or during swimming, boating, or other water activities. Do not drink alcohol while supervising children. Alcohol impairs judgment, balance, and coordination.

Use the buddy system

Always swim with a buddy. Choose swimming sites that have lifeguards when possible. The buddy system is especially beneficial for people with seizure disorders or other medical conditions that increase their risk of drowning.


Resource: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention