Five Minutes or Less for Health Weekly Tip: Prevent Drownings

wear a life jacketRecreational activities in a natural body of water can be a wonderful way to spend time with family and friends. Learning to swim is key. Take precautions. If you plan to swim, ride in a boat, canoe, or other water vehicle, take a minute to protect yourself and others from drowning.

  • Put on a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket. Make sure all passengers put on a life jacket, regardless of distance to be traveled, size of boat, or swimming ability of boaters.
  • Know the meaning of and obey warnings represented by colored beach flags. These may vary from one beach to another.
  • Watch for dangerous waves and signs of rip currents. Some examples are water that is discolored and choppy, foamy, or filled with debris and moving in a channel away from shore.
  • If you are caught in a rip current, swim parallel to shore. Once free of the current, swim diagonally toward shore.
  • Do not use air-filled or foam toys, such as water wings, noodles, or inner-tubes, in place of life jackets. These toys are not designed to keep swimmers safe.
  • Don’t drink. Alcohol is involved in about a third of all recreational and boating fatalities.

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Page last reviewed: August 21, 2015