Unintentional drowning. 71 percent of fatal drownings occur at residential locations. It's the third leading cause of injury-related deaths among children 19 and under. Drownings happen quickly and quietly. Learn recreational water safety tips to minimize the risk of illness and injury.
Learn How to Swim
- When children lack good swimming skills, drownings and close calls are eight times more likely. If a parent does not know how to swim, there is only a 13 percent chance that a child in that household will learn how to swim. Swimming lessons are both fun and a great lifesaving skill. Don't know where to sign up for lessons? Organizations like the YMCA, American Red Cross, and USA Swimming Foundation offer both adult and child classes in communities across the country. If you are unable to attend in-person lessons, watch How to Swim for Beginners or Goldfish at Home to learn techniques.
- Wear life jackets. Life jackets can be used in and around pools, lakes, or the ocean - even if you know how to swim. Make sure the life jacket is properly fastened. A snug fit is a proper fit.
Be Boat Prepared
- Whether you cruise, sail, kayak, fish, or do yoga on a paddleboard, you are responsible to know the laws and basics of boating safety. Washington State ranks 5th in Top 10 States by Recreational Boating Deaths. Drowning was reported as the cause of death in 79 percent of all boating fatalities. Approximately 86 percent of those who drowned were not wearing life jackets.
Know Your Limits
- Swimming in open water is harder than in a pool - people tire faster and get into trouble more quickly. A person can go under water in a murky lake, making them very hard to find, or be swept away in currents. Avoid swimming where two rivers come together. Be cautious of sudden drop-offs in lakes and rivers. Check the forecast for high surf, rip currents, and sneaker waves before going to the beach. Stay sober when on or in the water - alcohol and other drugs increase the effects of weather, temperature, and waves.
- Cold water is dangerous. Cold water is anything less than 70 degrees Fahrenheit - many Washington lakes and rivers meet that criteria. Warm air doesn't always mean warm water in lakes, streams, or oceans. Plunging into cold water can be dangerous and cause cold shock, physical incapacitation, or hypothermia. Roughly 20 percent of those who fall in cold water die in the first minute of immersion due to cold water shock.
Never Leave a Child Unattended In or Near Water
- Watch kids when they are in or around water, without being distracted. Young children can drown in as little as one inch of water, so it's important to keep them within an arm's reach of an adult.
- Install fences around home pools. A pool fence should surround all sides of the pool and be at least four feet tall with self-closing and self-latching gates. Invest in locking straps for hot tubs.