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How to Stay Safe in Natural Waters

As weather warmer approaches and water levels continue to rise, know how to stay safe before you go swimming in your favorite outdoor swimming spot.

 Girl in a canoe on a lake, how to swim safely in natural waters

 

Currents and unpredictable weather conditions can make swimming in rivers and lakes a lot more challenging than swimming in a backyard swimming pool. Know how to stay safe when swimming in natural water. Here’s what the Red Cross recommends:   

 

Know before you go  

 

  • Ensure every member of your party knows how to swim. Find a swim or water safety class near you.
  • Always enter unknown or shallow water feet first
  • Be aware of currents, waves, or underwater obstructions like rocks or tree trunks
  • Always wear a life jacket while in natural water
  • Know what to do in case of an emergency—including knowing how to help someone who might be in trouble in the water, calling for emergency help, and performing CPR

Stay aware

 

  • Supervise children closely
  • Watch for unexpected changes in air or water temperature
  • If the weather changes to thunder and lightning, leave the water immediately
  • Watch for fast-moving currents or rapids, even in shallow water
  • Dramatic drop-offs can occur unexpectedly and can greatly change the depth of the water

Related: How to Choose Sunscreen and When to Reapply

 

Stay smart while in water

 

  • Don’t swim alone
  • Enter the water feet first (do not dive into unknown water depths)
  • Swim sober
  • Stay in areas that are within your fitness and swimming capabilities
  • Supervise other swimmers without distractions such as reading or using a smartphone

 

For additional water safety guidelines and swimming tips, download the Swim app by the American Red Cross from the App Store or Google Play. Or, text “SWIM” to 90999.

 

While you’re here, check out our other articles on healthy living. For information on our medical and dental plans, visit selecthealth.org/plans

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