This is the 6th article in a series that Wilton Fire Chief Ron Kanterman has written on summer water safety. The series is a joint effort between the Wilton Fire Department, Police Department and Dive Rescue Team.

This is the sixth installment of our water safety series in conjunction with this summer’s drown prevention and water safety campaign. This campaign is part of our Community Risk Reduction program. We have taken bits and pieces of what’s been published thus far and have compiled it here, so folks who have not had the opportunity to see parts 1-5 can catch up.

We also found a new website with great information.

Go to the bottom of the pictograph and click on Sources. There are 9 different programs. The first one is “Spot the Drowning Child.” It’s a live action “You Tube” video of a community pool full of children with one in trouble. It’s the real deal. If you watch that clip, we guarantee you’ll open the other eight.

Things to think about as you maintain your pool during the season. Remember to:

  • Store and use pool chemicals safely.
  • Check your fence and insure the gates close and latch properly.
  • Check house door alarms and floating pool alarms for proper operation.
  • Learn how to safely respond to water emergencies (CPR, First Aid, Lifeguarding, Basic Water Rescue) by taking a class.
  • Enroll your non-swimmers in a swimming class. No one is drown-proof and remember that no one can learn how to swim in 2 or 3 lessons.
  • Make sure your hot tub is covered securely when not in use.

Know how to recognize an emergency

  • Drowning happens 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.
  • Alert the on-duty Lifeguard.
  • Don’t wait. Have someone call 9-1-1.
  • 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.

When should someone wear a life jacket?

  • When boating or rafting and when using an inner tube or personal water craft
  • When children and weak swimmers are in, on or around water
  • In open waters or other challenging environments

How to choose a life jacket

  • It should be U.S. Coast Guard approved.
  • It should be right for the activity you are participating in.
  • It needs to fit the person. One size does not fit all. They have weight limits too.
  • Remember to make sure buckles and straps are in good order and discard torn or damaged jackets. Practice swimming with it on, too.

Water and Weather Preparedness

  • Plan your trip by getting the forecast and knowing where you’ll be enjoying your water borne activities. Approved swim area? Lifeguards on duty?
  • Keep an eye out for unexpected changes in air or water temperature
  • Look for fast moving currents, waves and rapids, even in shallow water
  • Stay alert for hazards such as dams, rocks, debris floating on top of the water or on the bottom. Never dive head first in to an unknown body of water.
  • Watch for aquatic life and underwater vegetation.
  • Be prepared for sudden drop-offs, ledges or changes in water depth.
  • Stay on the lookout for other people around you including boats.

Water Safety at the Water Front

  • Ensure everyone knows how to swim. Tragically, the news has reported that non-swimmers have gotten in to the water and in trouble all season.
  • Swim in designated areas with life guards.
  • Keep children under constant supervision. Do not get distracted. A one minute text message could mean the difference between a good day at the lake and a family tragedy.
  • Do not depend on water wings or inflatable toys.
  • Always swim with a buddy. (The Boy Scouts of America have used this system for over 75 years and it works!)


  • Make sure gates are locked, back doors are secured and pool and hot tub covers are (BLOCK).
  • 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 drowning prevention, visit the Red Cross website or the Prevent Drowning Coalition website.

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

Prevent Drowning; BLOCK-WATCH-LEARN