Water Safety

Boating Safety Tips

life jacket
  • Always wear a life jacket.
  • Avoid alcohol.
  • Be especially careful on personal watercrafts.
  • Children younger than age 13 must wear a Coast Guard approved life jacket while underway.
  • Enroll in a boater education class.
  • Don’t overload your boat.
  • Operate at a safe speed.
  • Always have a passenger serve as a lookout in addition to the operator.
  • Watch out for low water areas or submerged objects.

Always Wear a Personal Flotation Device (PFD) or Life Jacket:

  • Most boating fatality victims were found (recovered) NOT wearing a PFD.
  • Always carry extra PFD’s in both adult and child sizes.
  • Children younger than 13 years old must wear a PFD while underway.

Avoid Alcohol:

  • The probability of being killed in a boating accident doubles when alcohol is involved.
  • Operating a boat under the influence is just as dangerous as driving a car after you’ve been drinking.
  • Boating while intoxicated (BWI) is strictly enforced and carries penalties similar to driving while intoxicated penalties, including possible Driver’s License suspension.

Enroll in a Boater Education Course — Regardless of Age:

  • It’s a good idea for the whole family to enroll in a boater education course.
  • A majority (52%) vessels involved in boating accidents are operated by persons 26-50 years of age.
  • For information on classroom, home video and on-line course options, visit the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Boater Education Web pages or call (800) 792-1112.

Swimming Safety Guide

Summer is in full swing and while you're enjoying the pleasures of the warm weather, it's important to be prepared to keep yourself and your loved ones out of harm's way. The American Red Cross in Greater New York has several simple tips that could save your life if you're swimming at the beach, the lake, or a neighborhood pool.

General Swimming Safety Tips

  • Learn to swim and swim well. One of the best things anyone can do to stay safe in and around the water is learn to swim. No one should ever swim alone.
  • Never swim alone—always swim with a buddy.
  • Always choose a supervised area in which to swim, whether at a pool, the beach, the ocean, a lake or a river. A trained lifeguard is the best safety factor. Even good swimmers can have an unexpected medical emergency in the water.
  • Never drink alcohol and swim. Alcohol impairs your judgment, balance and coordination and reduces your body's ability to stay warm.  
  • Never chew gum or eat while you swim - you could easily choke.
  • Know your swimming limits and stay within them. Don't try to keep up with a stronger swimmer or encourage others to keep up with you. Keep an eye on children and weaker swimmers €“ if they appear tired, encourage them to rest out of the water.
  • Use common sense about swimming after eating.  It may not be necessary to wait an entire hour after eating to swim safely. But after a large meal, let digestion get started before doing any strenuous activity such as swimming.
  • Watch out for the dangerous "too's” €“ too tired, too cold, too far from safety, too much sun, too much strenuous activity.
  • Stay out of the water when overheated €“ you could easily tire. Let your body cool itself down first. Drink lots of liquids before jumping into the water.
  • Watch the weather.  Stop swimming or boating as soon as you see lightning or hear thunder. Wait at least twenty minutes after the last sound of thunder and flash of lightning before re-entering the water.
  • Pack a “safety” bag for a day at the beach or lake. Include water-proof sunscreen, SPF 15 or higher, water shoes to keep feet safe from the heat and objects on land and in the water and plenty of water. All containers should be plastic to prevent injuries from breaking glass. The properly packed safety bag will help ensure that everyone comes home safe and sound.

How to Keep Children Safe Around Water

  • Always supervise children in or near water—pool, stream, lake, tub, toilet, bucket of water—no matter how shallow the water. A child can drown in just inches of water. Even children who have taken swimming lessons must be supervised.
  • Don't rely on flotation devices and inflatable toys to replace parental supervision. These devices can deflate or slip out from beneath a child, leaving that child in danger.
  • Always have children use approved life vests.
  • Stay within an arm's length of any infant or toddler who is in or around water. 
  • Keep a cell phone with you at the beach; keep a cordless phone or install a phone by the pool so you can call 9-1-1 in an emergency.
  • Go over pool rules and general swimming instructions with children before you leave for the pool or the beach. Once you arrive, children may be too excited to listen closely.
  • Have children use the buddy system and explain how it works.
  • Don't allow running or rough play around the water.
  • Encourage children to "Stop, watch and walk into the water."
  • Teach children to swim at an early age.
  • Learn American Red Cross Infant/Child CPR and insist that babysitters, grandparents, and others who care for your child also know CPR.

Pool Safety

Did you know?

  • A child can drown in a pool in the time it takes to answer the phone.
  • A young child can drown in just inches of water.
  • More than 300 children under the age of 5 drown in residential swimming pools each year.
  • Drowning is the leading cause of injury death for children 1 to 2 years old. 
  • Drowning is second leading cause of accidental death for Americans ages 5 to 44.
  • Supervision combined with barriers and safety devices are the keys to pool safety.

Pool Supervision for Children

  • Never leave a child unattended in or near the pool area for any reason, even for a moment. Don't run inside to answer a phone or the doorbell. If you must leave the pool area, take the child with you, and make sure the pool gate is securely latched.
  • Always keep your eyes on children in and around water.
  • Designate a child watcher when you attend a party or have friends or family over.
  • Check the pool first if a child is missing. Go to the edge of the pool and scan the entire pool, bottom and surface, as well as the surrounding pool area.
  • Attend a Red Cross CPR class. Make sure anyone watching young children around a pool—babysitter, grandparents and you—learn CPR and are able to rescue a child if necessary.
  • Keep children away from pool filters. The suction force could injure them or prevent them from surfacing.
  • Post and enforce pool rules:  "No running," "No roughhousing,” "No dunking" and "Never swim alone."
  • Encourage neighbors to follow pool safety guidelines, including keeping their back gates and doors locked, and their pool gates securely closed and latched.
  • Never dive into an above-ground pool and check the water depth before plunging into an in-ground pool. Keep clear of the area near a diving board.

Pool Barriers and Safety Devices

  • Childproof your pool. Install one fence around your backyard and another fence (at least 4-feet-tall) around the pool. Most young children who drown in pools wander out of the house and fall into the pool.
  • Use gates that self-close and self-latch, with latches higher than your children's reach.
  • Use a power safety cover that meets the standards of the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). This should not be used in place of a fence between your house and pool.
  • Lock any door leading to the pool area.  
  • Install alarms on access doors.
  • Keep rescue equipment by the pool, including a shepherd's hook, rope, and personal flotation devices (PFDs), and know how to use it. 
  • Keep a cell phone or cordless phone by the pool so you can call 911 in case of emergency.
  • Never leave furniture near a fence that would enable a child to climb over the fence and into the pool area.
  • Remove all toys from the pool after use so children aren't tempted to reach for them.
  • Keep CD players, radios and other electrical devices away from pools or nearby wet surfaces.

Lake and River Swimming Safety

  • Select a clean, well maintained area with a clean bathhouse, restrooms and a litter-free environment.
  • Select an area with good water quality and safe natural conditions. Murky water, hidden underwater objects, unexpected drop-offs, and aquatic plant life are hazards. Water pollution can cause health problems for swimmers. Strong tides, big waves, and currents can turn an event that began as fun into tragedy.
  • Make sure the water is deep enough before entering head-first. A feet-first entry is much safer than diving.
  • Be sure rafts and docks are in good condition with no loose boards or exposed nails. Never swim under raft or dock and always look before jumping off to be sure no one is in the way.
  • Avoid drainage ditches for water run-off. After heavy rains, they can quickly change into raging rivers that can take a human life; even the strongest swimmers are no match for the power of the water.

Swimming at a Water Park

  • Be sure the area is well supervised by lifeguards before you or others in your group enter the water.
  • Read all posted signs. Follow the rules and directions given by lifeguards. Ask questions if you are not sure about a correct procedure.
  • Be aware that when you go from one attraction to another, the water depth may be different and the attraction may be used in a different way.
  • Get in the correct position before starting down a water slide—face up and feet first.
  • Get in the correct position before starting down a water slide—face up and feet first. On speed slides, be sure legs are crossed to prevent injuries.
  • Wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket if you cannot swim. Some facilities provide life jackets at no charge.
  • Practice good hygiene. Shower before you get to a water part (or a pool). Change diapers in a diaper changing room. If somebody is ill with diarrhea, don't go into the water—that person could transmit the disease to others.  Have toddlers wear swim diapers.
  • Learn to swim. The best thing adults and children can do to stay safe in and around the water is to learn to swim.

When you see Water on the Road: Turn Around, Don’t Drown

  • In flash floods, water rises so rapidly it may be far deeper by the time you get into it than you believed when you decided to take a chance.
  • Water across a road may hide a missing segment of roadbed or a missing bridge. Roads weaken under floodwater and drivers should proceed cautiously after waters have receded, since the road may collapse under the weight of the vehicle.
  • Texans are killed every year at low water crossings during flash floods. Their lives could have been saved if they had turned their vehicles around and gone a different way.
  • Water displaces 1,500 pounds of weight for every foot that it rises. It takes only two feet of water to float a vehicle weighing 3,000 pounds.

Drivers should NEVER attempt to drive through water running across roadways. When drivers see water across roads or highways, they need to back up and choose alternate routes.

  • Six inches of water can cause tires to lose traction and begin to slide, and 12 inches of water will float many cars.
  • In a flash flood, waters may be rising very rapidly.  
  • Two feet of rushing water will carry off pick-up trucks, SUVs and most other vehicles.
  • Water on a roadway can be much deeper than it appears and water levels can rise very quickly. Floodwaters erode roadways. A missing section of road -- even a missing bridge -- will not be visible with water running across the area.
  • If your car stalls in floodwater, get out quickly and move to higher ground. Floodwaters may still be rising and the car could be swept away at any moment.
  • Cars can become death traps because electric windows and door locks can short out when water reaches them, trapping occupants inside.

Check road conditions

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