June 25, 2024

Summer Swim Safety

Photo of three kids excited to swim. Photo from iStock.

Swimming is a great way to stay cool during the summer. The Cambridge Public Health Department wants to remind everyone about the importance of water and swim safety. Drowning is a leading cause of death among young children, nationally and in Massachusetts, with backyard pools posing the highest risk for children under age 5. Drowning can happen in mere seconds and is often silent. While children are at highest risk, anyone can drown. In Massachusetts, summer months continue to be the time of year when most drownings occur.

Below are some vital tips for keeping you and your loved ones safe in water. You can view more water safety tips on the state’s website and the American Red Cross’ website.

  • Learn to swim. Having formal swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning among children and young adults.
    • The City of Cambridge’s Gold Star Mothers Pool offers swim lessons for local summer camps. 
    • The War Memorial Recreation Center offers year-round swim instruction classes for children, youth, and adults.
    • The Cambridge YMCA has swimming lessons. 
    • Find classes across Massachusetts. Included is a list of organizations that provide regular or occasional adaptive swim lessons for people with disabilities. 
  • Be alert and watch children closely. Supervise children in and around water at all times.
    • Whenever infants and toddlers are in or around water, including the bathtub, an adult should be within an arm’s length at all times providing “touch supervision.”
    • Teach young children to always ask for permission before going near the water.
  • Never swim alone. Swim with a buddy, even if you’re a strong swimmer.
  • If someone is missing, check the water! 
  • Keep a cell phone nearby and know the address of your location in case you need to call for help.
  • Be mindful of the water temperature. Cold water can shock your system and impair your ability to react.
  • Select swimming sites that have lifeguards whenever possible and swim only in designated swimming areas.
  • Become a lifeguard. The Commonwealth is recruiting lifeguards at its inland and coastal beaches, as well as swimming pools. For more information, visit the Department of Conservation and Recreation’s lifeguarding website.
  • Learn CPR. The American Red Cross offers a wide selection of CPR/AED, first aid, lifeguarding, swimming and water safety, caregiving, disaster response, and emergency preparedness training. Find information on CPR classes.
  • If someone is drowning, immediately tell the lifeguard or call 911. 
    • Do not try to rescue the person drowning. You can risk drowning yourself. 
    • If you can’t reach the person in the water, throw a flotation device. Or use a rope or other object to increase your reach.
    • Once the person is on dry land, begin CPR. If available, use an automatic external defibrillator (AED).