Summer Water Safety

Whether you are at the lake, river, beach or pool, stay safe by following the tips below.

Author: Nicole Neal and Dabney Weems

Many people try to beat the heat by enjoying time in the water. Whether you are at the lake, river, beach or pool, stay safe by following the tips below. 

Tips for All Bodies of Water

Do not swim alone and have a “water watcher.” Use the 

buddy system. If one swimmer is in danger or experiences problems, the other can help or call for assistance. A “water watcher” can also watch children and/or inexperienced swimmers. 

Swim sober. Indulging in alcohol affects your balance, coordination and judgment. The effects are also enhanced by the exposure to sun and heat. 

Enter the water feet first. It’s difficult to tell the depth when swimming. Always enter the water feet first to avoid hitting your head. In natural swimming environments, there may also be submerged rocks or trees you could hit your head on. 

Do not leave children unattended. It’s never safe to swim alone, especially for children. Many do not know how to swim or are not strong swimmers. They should also wear a life jacket. 

Wear a life jacket. Lifejackets can keep your head above water, and many are designed to turn you face up while floating. Especially wear lifejackets if you cannot swim or while boating and riding a personal watercraft. 

Tips for Lakes and Rivers

Avoid jumping from rock to rock. Rocks could be slippery if dry or wet making it very easy for you to slip and hit your head. 

Do not fight against river currents. Swim across the current, similar to handling a rip current at the beach (see below). 

Falling into swift currents. Do not try to stand up. Lay on your back, with your toes pointed up and feet headed downstream. Once the strength of the current reduces, you will be able exit the water.


Observe lifeguards and flags. Beach flags signal any warnings or hazards that may be in effect. Always know where the closest lifeguard station is to you and listen to their commands. 

How to swim out of a rip current.  Rips currents are powerful channels of water that flow perpendicular to the shoreline. Swimmers finding themselves in a rip current often try to swim against the current which can be very strong (one to two feet a second). If you find yourself caught in a rip current, remain calm and do not swim against the current. Swim parallel to the shoreline until you are out of the rip current.


Stay away from drains. Suction pressure can be as high as 700 lbs. Avoid swimming near drains to keep hair, clothing, jewelry, etc.

 from being sucked in the drain. Due to the high pressure, you will not be able to remove yourself. 

Utilize pool barriers. Install and secure fencing that is out of the reach of children around the pool.