rivers and lakes

  • NEVER SWIM ALONE - Use the buddy system.

        More than half of fatal and nonfatal drownings  of people 15 and older occur in open water.

  • WEAR  A LIFE VEST - Coast Guard approved  and properly fitting. 

        Even  if you consider yourself a good swimmer.   

       Open water - rivers, lakes and ocean - can be very  unpredictable with hidden dangers.

       Know the options for life vests and how to pick the right one.   ​

       A number of open water swimming locations have  a life jacket loaner station.  Use it.

       Watch the powerful video "Life Jackets Float  - Do You?"  from the American Canoe Association available on 

       YouTube  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DpFwGQ35W1w&feature=youtu.be


  • Know the water and what’s beneath the water, the bottom surface.  

  • Be aware of currents that may sweep you along beyond your strength.

  • Always enter the water feet first.

  • If you do jump, be aware that the bank you may be jumping from may be unstable and could give way.

  • Be on the look out for submerged trees (aka "strainers") that  you can be pushed into  by the current and be unable to free yourself from.

  • When swimming in quarries or blue holes,  know that water temperature at the surface can be 80 degrees but 40 degrees just a few feet below.  The body loses temperature 25 - 40  times faster in cold water than in air.  Cold water can shock a swimmer's system  and make movement difficulty.  Water that is 40 to 50 degrees can cause a loss of dexterity in under 5 minutes. Cognitive functioning and judgment can be affected and disorientation can result.  Water that is 40 to 50 degrees can cause exhaustion or unconsciousness in  30 to 60 minutes

  •  Be aware of fallen trees (aka "sweepers") that can pull you in and knock over you (or your boat) and trap you.

  • Be aware of spillways and low head dams (aka "drowning machines").  They are difficult to spot from upstream.

         As the water flows over the dam, it creates an undertow that pulls you under and which is difficult to escape.

         (The best method of escape from a low head dam is to relax and swim out the bottom or side.)

  • Be aware of undercut banks and ledges that can trap victims.​

  • DO NOT DRINK ALCOHOL.   Among teens and adults,  alcohol use was involved in up to 70% of deaths associated with water recreation,

 If you have any questions or if you have additional information you think could be helpful to this page or drowning prevention in general, please do not hesitate to contact the Swim On Foundation.