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Water Safety

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Water Safety

Approxiametly 10 people die a day from an unintentional drowning, two of which will be children 14 or younger. In fact, drowning is the leading cause of preventable, injury-related deaths among 1-4 year olds, but it doesn't have to be. Swim lessons, proper supervision, and the correct use of life jackets can prevent a majority of these fatalities. 

65% of African American and 45% of Latinx children in the U.S., and children in homes with an income under $50,000/yr, have little to no swimming ability. African American children 5-19 drown at a rate 5.5 times higher than white children with those between 11 and 12 drowning at an even higher rate of 10 times their white counterparts (CDC). 

The ability to swim properly, and reduce the risk of drowning, should cross generational, racial and economic lines. Just one month of formal lessons can reduce the possibility of childhood drownings by almost 90% (USA Swimming Foundation). 

Remember: No one is completely safe from drowning, even with proper swimming lessons, but they can make us all safer in and around water.



To find a local pool and enroll in swimming lessons, or join a USA Swimming Foundation swim team, click here.


Summer Swimming Safety

Follow these tips, which are applicable to all ages, to be safe and water savvy:

Check out the Boston Centers for Youth and Families (BCYF) for the nearest pool and learn more about year-round registration for indoor pools and seaosnal registration for outdoor pools. 

Learn to Swim, Boston

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 (Click the Learn to Swim, Boston flyer to the left for a full sized version of additional free or reduced cost swimming locations).
Know where the lifeguard is at all times and stay within their line of vision in case of an emergency. Caretakers should always supervise children, staying within arms reach, even with a lifeguard present. 
​Never drink and swim, this is a very dangerous mix. Alcohol can impair your judgment and depth perception.
 Never dive into water that is less than 10 ft. deep. The safest way to enter water is feet first, always, to prevent a neck or spinal cord injury.

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(Click the
Swim Safely This Summer
flyer to the right for a full sized version of our summer safety tips).

Don't use water toys, noodles or floaties as life savers-they do not replace life jackets or a Coast Guard approved personal flotation device (PFD).
​Keep long hair tied up and away when swimming as it can easily get caught in a drain. Consider using a swimming cap.


Pools, Oceans, Rivers and Lakes

Follow these tips to remain safe in and around home and community pools as well as open bodies of water:

​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, reading all posted safety signs to avoid confusion.
Swim in a pool when a lifegaurd is present or a home pool with an adult present. 
Swim in open bodies of water only when a lifegaurd is present. 
​Shower before entering the pool to avoid spreading germs. Rinse off when exiting the pool to remove the chlorine from your hair and body.Shower before entering an open body of water to remove any potential contaminants from your body. Rinse off after swimming to remove bacteria.
Never swim in an outside pool during lightening or thunderstorms.
Check weather conditions and obey all weather advisories before swimming outside. 




Water Safety at Home

Did you know?

  • That drownings can occur quickly and quietly? 
  • That babies can drown in as little as one inch of water? 
  • That drownings can occur at and inside the home as well? 

In-ground and above-ground pools, kiddie or wading pools, bath water, toilet water and water left in a bucket are all drowning hazards, especially for young children.  Infant drownings occur most in bathtubs, toilets and buckets of water. 

Follow these tips to help prevent a home drowning:

Always stay within arms reach of a child in the tub and hold onto infants for their entire bath. Never leave the room or distract yourself with something else.
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*Click the image above for a full sized version of the Water Safety at Home tip sheet* 
​A baby bath seat is used for comfort and does not prevent a baby from drowning.
Be sure to empty and turn over all buckets of water, infant/toddler bath tubs, and wading/kiddie pools and drain the water from a tub and sink when you're done using it.
Use a child safety lock on all toilets in the home and close bathroom and laundry room doors behind you.
If you have an in-ground or above-ground pool or a jacuzzi on your property, be sure to have it fenced off.

Bonus Water Safety Tip: To prevent burns, check bath and running water with the inside of your wrist before placing little ones in the bath and before washing their hands.   It takes less than one second for a child to be scalded by water that is too hot. 100°F is the perfect temprature for bath water and it should be warm, never hot.

Request a bath thermometer card from our home safety program to ensure the temperature is always right.


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