Wear a Jacket. Save a Life.

1. Overview

During the summer months when long days are spent at the lake or pool, it is of the highest priority to practice water safety. According to the CDC, an average of 3,957 unintentional drowning deaths occurred each year from 2010–2019 in the US. Avoid being a victim by following these easy water safety tips:

  • Learn to swim! All children and adults who will be near water need to learn how to
  • Wear a life jacket! 70 percent of all drownings would have been avoided if the victim had on a life jacket. Even if you know how to swim, unseen obstacles, depth changes or unexpected currents can pull you underwater.
  • Only swim in designated areas.
  • Always swim with a buddy.
  • Read and obey all posted signs.
  • Enter the water feet first.
  • Designate an adult to watch swimming children. Watch children closely around all bodies of water, and keep them away from pool drains.
  • Do not boat or swim in bad weather.
  • Be sure to keep boats stocked with safety equipment such as life jackets, noisemaking devices, flotation devices and a fire extinguisher.
  • Alcohol and water sports do not mix. Alcohol impairs your judgment, balance and coordination, affects you swimming and diving skills and reduces your body’s ability to stay warm. Be sure to have a designated non-drinking boat driver.
  • Take a boat education class.
  • Watch out for the dangerous “too’s” – too tired, too cold, too far from safety, too much sun, too much strenuous activity.
  • Avoid endangering yourself by using flotation devices or objects to rescue others. The best way to save both drowning children and adults is to throw them a floatation device or drag them to shore with a pole or branch. Struggling persons often drag the would-be rescuer under the water. Thus, the rescuer often becomes the victim.
  • Learn CPR. In an emergency situation, it could be up to you to save a life.
  • In an emergency, call 911. Identify your location or a nearby landmark to help emergency response teams find you. 


2. Beach Safety

  • Protect your skin! Limit the amount of direct sunlight you receive between 10 a.m.
    and 4 p.m. Wear a sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays.
  • Drink plenty of water. Water is essential to keeping your body cool and your mind alert.
  • Avoid alcohol and caffeine. These types of drinks exacerbate heat’s effect on your body.
  • Watch for signs of life-threatening heat stroke. In this situation, the victim’s temperature control system stops working. In some cases, the body temperature can rise so high that brain damage or death may result. Signals of heat stroke include:
    • Hot, red, and usually dry skin
    • Changes in consciousness
    • Rapid, weak pulse
    • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • If you suspect that someone is suffering from heat stroke,
    • Call 911.
    • Move the person to a cooler place.
    • Quickly cool the person by wrapping wet sheets around his/her body and fanning him/her. If you have ice packs or cold packs, place them on each of the victim's wrists, ankles, neck and in his/her armpits to cool the large blood vessels.
    • Watch for signals of breathing problems and make sure the airway is clear.
    • Keep the person lying down.
  • Wear eye protection. The sun’s rays can damage eyes.
  • Wear foot protection. Hot sand can burn feet, and small shards of glass can damage the skin.


3. Boating Safety

  • The best thing anyone can do to stay safe in and around the water is to learn to swim. Even adults who swam as children may benefit from a refresher course.
  • Alcohol and boating don't mix. Over 50 percent of drownings result from boating incidents involving alcohol.
  • Use Coast Guard-approved life jackets for yourself and your passengers when boating and fishing.
  • Anytime you go out in a boat, give someone details about where you will be and how long you will be gone. In case of an emergency, rescue teams will know where to start looking for you.
  • Find a boating course in your area. These courses teach about navigation rules, emergency procedures and the effects of wind, water conditions, and weather.
  • Watch the weather. Know local weather conditions and prepare for electrical storms. Stop boating as soon as you see or hear a storm.


4. Home Pools

  • Everyone who enters the pool area should know how to swim.
  • Never leave a child unobserved around water. Your eyes must be on the child at all times.
  • Keep a phone nearby so that you can quickly call 911 in an emergency.
  • Learn CPR and insist that everyone who cares for your child knows CPR.
  • Post CPR instructions and local emergency numbers in the pool area.
  • Enclose the pool completely with a self-locking, self-closing fence with vertical bars.
  • Make sure that children cannot climb on anything to get over the fence.
  • Always keep basic lifesaving equipment by the pool and know how to use it. Pole, rope, and personal flotation devices are recommended.
  • Keep toys away from the pool when it is not in use. Toys can attract young children into the pool.
  • Pool covers should always be completely removed prior to pool use.
  • If a child is missing, check the pool first. Go to the edge of the pool and scan the entire pool, bottom, and surface, as well as the surrounding pool area.


5. Keeping Children Safe In, On, and Around the Water

  • Constantly watch children around any body of water, no matter what swimming skills your child has acquired and no matter how shallow the water. For younger children, practice "Reach Supervision" by staying within an arm's length reach.
  • Don't rely on substitutes. The use of flotation devices and inflatable toys cannot replace parental supervision. Such devices could suddenly shift position, lose air or slip out from underneath, leaving the child in a dangerous situation.
  • Enroll children in a water safety course or swimming classes. 
  • Parents should take a CPR course to learn what to do in an emergency.


6. Lakes and Rivers

  • Before going near a lake or river, learn to swim. 
  • Select a supervised area. A trained lifeguard who can help in an emergency is the best safety factor. Even good swimmers can have an unexpected medical emergency in the
    water. Never swim alone.
  • Select an area that is clean and well maintained. A clean bathhouse, clean restrooms, and a litter-free environment show the management’s concern for your health and
  • Select an area that has 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 a tragedy.
  • Make sure the water is deep enough before entering headfirst. A feet first entry is much safer than diving.
  • Be sure rafts and docks are in good condition. Never swim under a raft or dock. Always look before jumping off a dock or raft to be sure no one is in the way.
  • Avoid drainage ditches and arroyos. After heavy rains, they can quickly change into raging rivers that can easily take a human life.


7. Personal Watercraft and Jet Skies

  • Anyone participating in water sports or activities should know how to swim. 
  • The State of Texas requires that each occupant wear an approved personal flotation device (inflatable life jackets are not approved), and the personal watercraft must be
    equipped with a cut-off or kill switch. This kill switch must be attached to the operators clothing. For more details, visit http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/fishboat/boat/laws/pwc/.
  • Operate your PWC with courtesy and common sense. Follow the traffic pattern of the waterway. Obey no-wake and speed zones.
  • Use extreme caution around swimmers and surfers. Run your PWC at a slow speed until the craft is away from shore, swimming areas and docks. Avoid passing close to other boats and jumping wakes. This behavior is dangerous and often illegal.
  • Ride with a buddy. PWCs should always travel in groups of two or three. You never know when an emergency might occur.
  • Alcohol and jet skies do not mix.


8. Sailboarding and Windsurfing

  • Always wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket.
  • Wear a wet suit in cold water to prevent hypothermia.
  • You need good physical strength and swimming ability to sail or windsurf safely.
  • Take windsurfing lessons from a qualified instructor.
  • Make sure the water and weather conditions are safe. Stop swimming, boating or any activities on the water as soon as you see or hear a storm.


9. Tubing and Rafting

  • Always wear life jacket.
  • Do not overload the raft.
  • Do not go rafting after a heavy rain.
  • Learn to swim. 
  • Make sure the water and weather conditions are safe. Never swim, boat, or participate in any other water activity during a storm.


10. Waterparks

  • Be sure that all participants know how to swim. 
  • Be sure that the area is well supervised by lifeguards before you 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.
  • When you go from one attraction to another, note that the water depth may be different and that the attraction should be used in a different way.
  • Go feet first and face up down all water slides.


11. Water Skiing

  • Always wear a life jacket!
  • Be sure the boat and ski equipment are in good shape.
  • Always turn the boat motor completely off when you approach a fallen skier.
  • Watch the water ahead of you at all times.
  • Have an extra person aboard to watch and assist the skier.
  • Run parallel to shore and come in slowly when landing. Sit down if coming in too fast.
  • Use proper hand signals to signal boat operator.
  • Do not ski at night or in restricted areas.
  • Learn to swim! 
  • Stop water skiing or swimming as you see or hear a storm. Heavy rains can make certain areas dangerous.