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Water Safety

In 2010, 78 people died from drowning in the state of Massachusetts (MDPH 2010). Swim lessons, proper supervision, and correct use of life jackets could have prevented the majority of these fatalities. Drowning is a leading cause of injury-related deaths among 1-4 year olds, but it doesn't have to be. Follow these tips, which are applicable to all ages, to be safe and water savvy:

  1. If you have never taken swim lessons, consider contacting your local community center to get proper instruction. It's never too late to learn! Also, check out the Boston Centers for Youth and Families (BCYF) Summer Guide for the nearest pool and swim lessons offered:
  2. Always know where the lifeguard is positioned around the pool. Be sure to stay in his or her line of vision in case of an emergency. Parents should always supervise their children, staying within an arm’s reach of youth, even if a lifeguard is present. We highly recommend whoever is supervising know CPR.
  3. Never drink and swim – this is a particularly dangerous mix.
  4. Don't use water toys, noodles, or floaties as life savers; they do not replace life jackets or a Coast Guard-approved personal floatation device (PFD).
  5. Remember to use sunscreen that's at least SPF30 with UVA/UVB protection. Reapply sunscreen after sweating or getting wet.​​
​Never drink the pool water, it contains chlorine. ​Never drink the ocean, river or lake water as it may be polluted with contaminants
​Only swim in designated swimming areas and obey all signs around the pool.​Only swim in designated areas. Read all signs to avoid confusion.
​Never swim in an outside pool during lightening or thunderstorms.​Check weather conditions and obey all weather advisories before swimming outside.
​Shower before entering the pool to avoid spreading germs. Rinse off when exiting the pool to remain chlorine-free.

Did you know?
Blacks (ages 5-19) are at a 5 1/2 times higher risk of drowning compared with their white counterparts. Let's change this statistic by encouraging all people to learn to swim -  it's a life-saving skill!

To download our Water Safety Tip Sheet, click here.


Boston Public Health Commission
1010 Massachusetts Ave, 6th Floor, Boston, MA 02118.
Phone:(617) 534-5395 Email: