June 21, 2022
With summer already here, the Cambridge Public Health Department wants to remind everyone the importance of water and swim safety. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 11 people die each day from drowning in the US and drowning is the second leading cause of death among children ages 1–4. Drowning can happen in mere seconds and is often silent. While children are at highest risk, anyone can drown.
Below are some vital ways and resources to keep you and your loved ones safe in water.
Learn to swim. Having formal swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning among children and young adults. Here are some local places to get lessons:
- The City of Cambridge’s War Memorial Recreation Center offers a variety of swimming lessons to children and youth year-round. From June 27 – August 19, the indoor pool will be open for Family Swim and Adult Lap Swim on evenings Monday through Friday. View the pool schedule.
- The City of Cambridge’s Gold Star Mothers Pool offers swim lessons for local summer camps.
- The Cambridge YMCA has swimming lessons.
- Many pools operated by the state’s Department of Conservation & Recreation department offer swimming lessons. Here are two pools in Cambridge. Both open on June 25. Please call the pool facility for more information.
- Francis J. McCrehan Memorial Swimming and Wading Pool is located at 359 Rindge Avenue. The spray deck is already open. Call 617-661-0670.
- Veterans Memorial Swimming Pool is at 719 Memorial Drive. Call 617-661-0564.
- Additional swimming lessons resources can be found on the state’s Learn to Swim! web page.
Practice general swim safety tips:
- 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.
- Choose swimming sites that have lifeguards when possible. War Memorial Recreation Center, Gold Star Mothers Pool, Francis J. McCrehan Memorial Swimming and Wading Pool, and Veterans Memorial Swimming Pool all have lifeguards on duty.
- Only dive in places that are marked for diving. Because above ground pools are shallow, always go in feet first.
- Avoid swimming if you take medications that impair your balance, coordination, or judgment.
- Only swim in areas specifically designated for swimming. Learn more about staying safe in oceans, lakes, rivers and ponds.
- Ask someone in your group to stay sober, out of the water, and alert while keeping an eye on other people in the water.
- Be mindful of the water temperature. Cold water that can shock your system and impair your ability to react.
- 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.
- Want to become a lifeguard? Visit the state’s webpage on lifeguarding.
Be alert and watch children closely:
- Always supervise children in and around water, even if they know how to swim. If in a group, assign at least one adult as an “water watcher” to supervise children.
- Avoid distractions while supervising children (i.e., reading, texting, talking on the phone, drinking alcohol).
- Stay within arm’s length of kids under 4 years old—even if they’re in an inflatable wading pool. Staying close can save a child’s life.
- Make sure pool covers are completely off—kids can get trapped under covers.
Act fast when someone may be drowning:
- Know the following signs of drowning, which is faster and quieter than you may think. A person is:
- Floating on or treading water
- Trying swim to safety but unable to move forward
- Struggling to call for help
- Trying to keep their head above water to breath
- Alert the lifeguard, if one is present.
- Call 911 immediately if you think someone is drowning.
- Do not try to rescue someone from the water unless you are trained in water rescue. People have drowned because they entered the water trying to rescue a person in trouble.
- If no lifeguard or rescue personnel are present, use an object such as a rope, a foam noodle, a canoe paddle, or even your hand to pull the drowning victim out of the water immediately. You can also throw a flotation device like a beach ball, a lifejacket, an inner tube, or foam noodle to the person. Learn more from the Red Cross and watch the water safety video from YMCA of Greater Waukesha County.
- Once a person is out of the water, begin rescue breathing and CPR.
- Always take a near drowning victim to the hospital to be checked out to make sure there are not further health problems.