Being water competent in the ocean requires stronger and different skills than in a pool. Whenever you are at the beach, ocean or other open water environment, watch and prepare for:
- Changing tides.
- Fast-moving currents and waves, even in shallow water.
- Drop-offs that unexpectedly change water depth.
- Unexpected changes in air or water temperature.
- Hazards, such as underwater obstacles, rocks and debris.
- Vegetation, marine animals and fish.
- Other people’s activities in the same waters, such as boating.
- Thunder & Lightning.
- Leave the water immediately, if swimming off shore.
- If you’re out in a boat, head back to shore as quickly as possible.
- If you’re unable to get to shore, lie down in the bottom of the boat or shelter in the cabin if available.
Establish and Enforce Rules and Safe Behaviors
- Enter the water feet first for your safety!
- Always enter unknown or shallow water cautiously.
- Only dive in water clearly marked as safe for diving, at least 9 feet deep with no underwater obstacles. Never dive head first into surf!
- Do not enter the water from a height, such as a bridge or boat.
- Be careful when standing to prevent being knocked over by currents or waves.
- Swim sober.
- Supervise others sober and without distractions, such as reading or talking on or using a cell phone.
- Swim with a buddy even in lifeguarded areas.
Take These Water Safety Steps
- Employ layers of protection including barriers to prevent access to water, life jackets, and close supervision of children to prevent drowning.
- Ensure every member of your family learns to swim so they at least achieve skills of water competency: able to enter the water, get a breath, stay afloat, change position, swim a distance then get out of the water safely.
- Know what to do in a water emergency – including how to help someone in trouble in the water safely, call for emergency help and CPR.