Water Safety Tips & Drowning Signs

Know Before Jumping In

Water safety actions you can take to prevent water-related injuries and help save lives.

Tips to Help You Stay Safe in the Water

  • Only swim with close supervision in or around the water
  • Be alert and know what drowning signs to look for (see below)
  • Always swim with a buddy
  • Enroll in swim lessons
  • Practice water safety skills with children
  • Learn life-saving skills and what to do in an emergency (read emergency tips at American Red Cross)
  • Learn Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)
  • Use a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket for a safety device
  • Avoid drinking alcohol if you’re going to be in the water and never drink alcohol while supervising children in the water
  • Learn how you can prevent water-related illnesses (read the 5 steps for healthy swimming)
  • Take the Pool Safely pledge and receive a free water safety toolkit

Pool safely pledge

More Tips for Pool Owners

  • Install a safety fence around your swimming pool
  • Clear the pool and pool deck of any toys immediately after use
  • Make sure you have compliant drain covers
  • Install pool and gate alarms
  • Install a safety cover for your pool
  • Make sure your pool equipment is properly maintained
  • Contact a pool service professional for a water safety inspection

Drowning Signs

The CDC posted, “Every day, about ten people die from unintentional drowning. Of these, two are children aged 14 or younger. Drowning ranks fifth among the leading causes of unintentional injury death in the United States.”

Drowning is silent and unexpected. It’s important to know that victims of drowning do not look like they are drowning.

Mario Vittone, a retired U.S. Coast Guard helicopter rescue swimmer, helps us understand what drowning can look like in his recent article published by Soundings. 

Know What to Look For

  • Head low in the water, mouth at water level
  • Head tilted back with mouth open
  • Eyes glassy and empty, unable to focus
  • Eyes closed
  • Hair over forehead or eyes
  • Not using legs
  • Hyperventilating or gasping
  • Trying to swim in a particular direction but not making headway
  • Trying to roll over onto the back
  • Appears to be climbing an invisible ladder

If you notice any of these downing signs while other people are in the water, TAKE ACTION! Drowning people can only struggle on the surface of the water from 20 to 60 seconds before submersion occurs, and you may have less than 30 seconds to save a person from drowning.