Water Safety: Swimming & Diving Tips
Quick reminders for parents
Maintain constant supervision. The Red Cross reminds you to watch children around any water environment (pool, stream, lake, tub, toilet, bucket of water), no matter what skills your child has acquired, and no matter how shallow the water. For younger children, practice "reach supervision" by staying within an arm's length of your child.
Parents should take a CPR course. Knowing these skills can be important around the water and you will expand your capabilities in providing care for your child. You can contact the Red Cross at (309) 677-7272 to enroll in a CPR course.
Don't rely on substitutes. The use of flotation devices and inflatable toys cannot replace parental supervision. Such devices could suddenly shift position, lose air, or slip out from underneath, leaving the child in a dangerous situation.
Parents should set water safety rules for their family based on swimming abilities (for example, inexperienced swimmers should stay in water less than chest deep.) Children should also ask permission from parents first before they swim.
- Always swim with a buddy; never swim alone.
- Read and obey all rules and posted signs.
- Swim in areas that are supervised by a lifeguard.
- Children or inexperienced swimmers should take extra precaution, such as wearing a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket when around the water.
- Watch out for the "dangerous too's"—too tired, too cold, too far from safety, too much sun, too much strenuous activity.
- Be knowledgeable of the water environment you are in and its potential hazards, such as deep and shallow areas, currents, depth changes, obstructions and where the entry and exit points are located. The more informed you are, the more aware you will be of safety hazards and safe practices.
- Use a feet-first entry when entering the water.
- Enter head-first only when the area is clearly marked for diving and has no obstructions.
A head-first entry into shallow water is the leading cause of head, neck or back injuries in the water. Learn how to dive safely from a qualified instructor. Obey “No Diving” signs. They are there for safety.
The following guidelines are recommended for safe diving:
What not to wear
- Do not wear earplugs; pressure changes make them dangerous.
- Do not wear swimming goggles when diving.
Know your surroundings
- Be sure of water depth and ensure that the water is free from obstructions. The first time in the water, ease in or walk in; do not jump or dive.
- Never dive into an above-ground pool, the shallow end of any in-ground pool or at a beach.
- Never dive into cloudy or murky water.
- In open water, always check first for objects under the surface, such as logs, stumps, boulders and pilings.
- Check the shape of the pool bottom to be sure the diving area is large enough and deep enough for the intended dive.
- The presence of a diving board does not necessarily mean it is safe to dive. Pools at homes, motels and hotels might not have a safe diving envelope.
- When diving from a deck, the area of entry should be free of obstructions (such as lane lines and kickboards) for at least 4 feet on both sides.
For dives from a 1-meter diving board, you need 10 feet of clearance on both sides.
- Dive only off the end of a diving board. Diving off the side of a diving board might result in striking the side of the pool or entering water that is not deep enough.
- Do not bounce more than once on the end of a diving board to avoid missing the edge or slipping off the diving board.
- Do not run on a diving board or attempt to dive a long way through the air. The water might not be deep enough at the point of entry.
- For springboard diving, use equipment that meets the standards set for competition.
- Do not dive from a height greater than 1 meter unless trained in elevated entry.
- In a head-first dive, extend the arms with your elbows locked alongside the head. Keep your hands together with thumbs touching (or interlocked) and palms facing toward the water. Keeping the arms, wrists and fingers in line with the head helps control the angle of entry. This reduces the impact of the water on the top of the head and helps protect from injury. A diver’s body should be tensed and straight from the hands to the pointed toes.
- Swim away from the diving board after entering the water. Do not be a hazard for the next diver.
Rules for water parks
- Be sure the area is well supervised by lifeguards before you or others in your group enter the water.
- Read all posted signs. Follow the rules and directions given by lifeguards. Ask questions if you are not sure about a correct procedure.
- When you go from one attraction to another, note that the water depth may be different and that the attraction should be used in a different way.
- Be aware that some attractions have moving water, such as wave pools, and require swimming skills to be safe.
- Before you start down a water slide, get in the correct position—face up and feet-first.
- Some facilities provide life jackets at no charge. If you cannot swim, wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket.