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Water Safety for Teens and Adults

Whether you're going to a pool, beach, river or out on a boat, knowing how to stay safe around water is very important. By following a few simple rules, you can have a fun time while staying safe in and around water.

Did you know?

  • Drowning is one of the top reasons people accidentally die worldwide, with about 320,000 deaths every year.
  • In the United States, around 4,500 people die from drowning each year. It's the first leading cause of accidental death in Arizona for kids between one and 5 years of age and second leading cause for kids aged 1 to 14 in the U.S.
  • Teenagers and young adults, especially boys, are more likely to drown. Drowning is the third biggest cause of accidental death for this age group.
  • Alcohol is involved in about 70% of deaths related to water activities.

Knowing the risks and what to do can really help keep you and others safe.

Types of water hazards

  • Swimming pools: Pools can be fun, but they pose risks like drowning, especially for young kids who can't swim well.
  • Lakes and rivers: These natural water bodies can have strong currents and unpredictable depths, which can be dangerous for swimmers.
  • Beaches and oceans: Waves and tides can be strong, causing people to get pulled under or carried away.

Common water safety risks

  • Drowning: This happens when someone can't breathe because they're underwater too long.
  • Currents: These are flows of water that can pull swimmers away from shore or into deeper water.
  • Shallow water blackout: This occurs when swimmers hold their breath for a long time underwater, causing them to pass out.

Understanding these risks is key to staying safe around water. Always be aware of your surroundings and know how to respond in case of an emergency.

Essential water safety tips

Water safety is essential for enjoying aquatic activities without accidents. Follow these tips to stay safe:

  • Learn to swim: Taking swimming lessons can give you the skills to enjoy the water safely.
  • Supervision: Always swim with a buddy or under adult supervision, even if you're a strong swimmer. No one is ever old enough to swim alone.
  • Know your limits: Don't overestimate your swimming abilities. Stay within depths and conditions you can handle.
  • Alcohol and water don't mix: Drinking alcohol near water can impair judgment and increase the risk of accidents.
  • Weather awareness: Before swimming, check weather conditions and be aware of changing weather patterns that could affect safety.

By following these simple guidelines, you can reduce risks and ensure a safe and enjoyable experience in and around the water.

Pool and beach safety

Here are some important tips to keep you safe in pools and at the beach.

Pool safety

  • Importance of pool fences and barriers: Fences and barriers around pools prevent unsupervised access, reducing the risk of accidents, especially for young children.
  • Check pool depth and dive safely: Always check the depth of the pool before diving to avoid injuries. Dive only in designated areas with ample depth.

Beach safety

  • Understand beach flags and what they mean: Beach flags show if it's safe to swim. Learn what they mean to stay safe.
  • Rip current awareness and how to escape: Rip currents are strong currents that can pull swimmers away from the shore. If caught in a rip current, swim in a direction that runs alongside the shoreline (parallel to the shore) until you're out of the current, then swim back to shore safely.

Boating and watercraft safety

By following these safety tips, you can have a fun and safe experience while boating and enjoying watercraft activities:

  • Wear a life jackets: Always wear a life jacket when on a boat or watercraft (like kayaks and innertubes). Life jackets save lives by keeping you afloat in case of an accident or if you fall overboard. 
  • Avoid alcohol: Drinking alcohol while boating is dangerous. It impairs judgment, coordination, and reaction times, increasing the risk of accidents and drowning. Stay safe by avoiding alcohol before and during boating trips.

Boating safety 

  • Know and obey maritime rules and regulations.
  • Ensure your boat is in good condition and has all necessary safety equipment.
  • Be aware of weather conditions and how they can affect boating safety.
  • Stay alert and watch for other boats, swimmers, and obstacles in the water.

First aid and emergency response

Knowing how to respond in emergencies can save lives. Here's what you need to know.

Drowning signs

Learn to recognize signs of distress in swimmers, such as struggling to stay afloat, gasping for air or bobbing up and down in the water. If someone looks like they're in trouble, get help immediately.

CPR basics

If someone is drowning and unresponsive, perform CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation):

  • Step 1: Check for responsiveness. Tap the person and shout, "Are you okay?"
  • Step 2: Call for help. Instruct someone to call emergency services and get an AED (automated external defibrillator) if available.
  • Step 3: Start chest compressions. Place your hands on the center of the chest and push hard and fast (at least 100 compressions per minute).
  • Step 4: Give rescue breaths. Tilt the head back slightly and lift the chin to open the airway. Pinch the nose shut and give two rescue breaths.
  • Step 5: Continue CPR cycles until help arrives or the person starts breathing on their own.

Emergency contacts

Always know your local emergency numbers, such as 911 in the United States. Having these numbers readily available can save precious time in an emergency.

Knowing how to spot distress, perform CPR and call for help quickly can greatly help in water emergencies or any crisis.


Water safety is about enjoying the water while staying safe. Key points include learning to swim, always supervising swimmers, knowing your limits, avoiding alcohol near water and being aware of weather conditions. Even good swimmers can drown. Lifejackets add that extra protection from drowning.

Consider enrolling in a water safety course near you to learn more about staying safe in and around water. It's a great way to gain confidence and skills that could save a life. 

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