April POOLS Day came and went April 30. As we hope to kick off the pool, swimming, boating and water activity season with this weekend’s Memorial Day, let’s take a look at some things we all want and need to know about recreational water safety.

Know how to recognize an emergency:

  • Drownings happen quickly and quietly. Stand your watch.
  • Teach your family and guests to use the word “help” for a true emergency only, and not when Uncle Joe is chasing the kids around the pool.
  • Know the signs of a swimmer in distress. Distressed swimmers are trying to swim but are not making any progress.
  • Active drowning victims tend to push down on the water in order to keep their heads above the water line.
  • Never assume a swimmer calling for help or believed to be in distress is joking around. Take action. (If they were in fact kidding, straighten them out.)

Know how to respond to an emergency:

  • If someone is missing in general, check the pool, hot tub, etc.
  • Use the reach-throw method. Reach with a pole, skimmer net or other long handed device. Throw a buoy or other inflated device.
  • Only go in if you are a trained water rescue person/lifeguard or if you can stand up in the body of water with your head above the water line. A drowning victim will very often pull their rescuer under.
  • Learn life saving techniques and CPR.

Have the right stuff:

  • A bamboo or aluminum pole makes a good reach device.
  • A ring buoy on a rope. (A closed empty gallon milk container on a rope could work.)
  • If boating, there must be a U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device (PFD) on board for each person.
  • Get emergency services rolling as soon as possible. Keep a phone handy and make sure someone dials 9-1-1 as the emergency unfolds.
  • Whether in the back yard, at the beach or on a boat, have a first aid kit on hand.


  • Anyone watching children who are in or around water must understand that drowning happens quickly and suddenly. Never take your eyes off of those you supervise, not even for a moment. (WATCH)
  • Any source of water is a potential drowning hazard especially for young children and weak swimmers. (LEARN)
  • It’s a known fact that people can drown in as little as 3 inches of water. (LEARN)
  • Know how to respond to a swimmer in distress and get everyone to swimming lessons. (LEARN)

For more information on water safety and drown prevention, go to the Red Cross Water Safety or Prevent Drownings webpages.

Always Remember: Drowning is not limited to the pool, pond, lake or the ocean.