Safe swimming

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Reduce the chances of you, your friends or family members becoming drowning or near-drowning victims by following these safe swimming tips:

  • Keep an eye on friends and family. Drowning can occur in as little as 20 seconds for children and 60 seconds for an adult. Drowning is known as the "silent killer" because most victims slip beneath the water without a sound. Paying close attention to those around you can drastically reduce such accidents.
  • Learn to swim! The American Red Cross has swimming courses for people of any age and swimming ability.
  • Swim in designated areas. Swim areas are properly marked, and motor boats are prohibited.
  • Swim near the shore. Drowning most often occurs within about 10 feet of safety and usually within about 50 feet from shore.
  • Never swim alone.
  • Learn to perform CPR (cardio-pulmonary resuscitation). Check Red Cross CPR training programs. In an emergency, always have someone call 911.
  • Wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket. See information on different kinds of life jackets.
  • Remember that swimming and alcohol can be a deadly combination.
  • Swimming in a river, lake or pond always carries some risk of exposure. Unlike swimming pools, natural waters are not chlorinated or disinfected. The risk is higher after heavy rains when bacteria levels are elevated due to fecal matter washed into the lakes and streams. People who go into the water do so at their own risk.
  • View the guidelines for preventing PAM. Primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM) is a rare, but often deadly, infection.