11 Water Safety Tips from Emerson’s Emergency Department


The beautiful ponds, beaches, pools, and water parks in our area provide fun relief from the heat. However, every summer, the Emerson Hospital Emergency Department sees patients who suffered from water-related accidents, including near-drownings and drownings.

Here are eleven tips from our emergency department staff to avoid water accidents:

  1. Children and beginner swimmers are safer in a flotation belt than a “puddle jumper.” Flotation belts keep the swimmer’s head above water and help strengthen swimming skills. However, no flotation devices are foolproof. Close adult supervision is necessary for everyone wearing a flotation device.
  2. Seek out places to enjoy the water that have a certified lifeguard. Check websites or call the destination before you go to find out if a lifeguard will be on duty.
  3. About 66 percent of people who drown have the ability to swim, but underestimate their strength and endurance. Set realistic swimming goals, do not push yourself or others, and utilize what is known as the survival position to rest your body while in the water. Watch this video to learn how to do the survival position.  
  4. Use the “Flip, Float, and Follow” method if you get in trouble while swimming, and avoid rip currents which can be very dangerous.
  5. Be aware of your surroundings, including wet surfaces that can be slippery, depth of water that can be different than anticipated, and rip currents that can develop quickly.
  6. Avoid drinking alcohol while at the beach or pool. It can impair your judgment and increase your risk of injury or drowning. 
  7. Take swimming breaks every 30 minutes or so, or more often depending on your age and swimming ability. Hydrate, re-apply sunscreen, and have a snack to fuel your energy before heading back into the water.
  8. Swim with a buddy and make sure a trusted adult is responsible for knowing where each swimmer is located at all times, especially any children.
  9. Avoid swimming at dusk and dark. It is much easier to keep an eye on swimmers when it is light outside.
  10. When swimming in cold water, acclimate your body to the temperature. Quick exposure to cold water causes muscles to tighten and disrupts your breathing. Instead of jumping right in, enter the water gradually, focus on maintaining your breathing, and keep your body moving.
  11. Take a water safety, CPR, or first aid course through the American Red Cross and learn how to save a life! You can visit these sites to find water safety classes and discover great resources:

Using these tips will help keep you and your family safe and having fun in the water this summer.