July 05, 2023

Swim Safe this Summer

Kid in the lake with her dad.  The young Black girl is wearing a life safety jacket.
Photo by Mieke Campbell.

With summer weather already here, 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. 

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. 
    • Please note that the War Memorial Pools may be closed this summer due to repair work.
    • The Cambridge YMCA has swimming lessons. 
    • Find classes across Massachusetts.
  • 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.
  • 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. This year, the Healey-Driscoll Administration raised the hourly pay for pool and waterfront staff to between $22 and $27. Qualified applicants can receive up to $1,000 in signing bonuses. 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.