Water Safety

Drowning is a leading cause of death for children under the age of 5.

Together, we can change that.

Things to Know About Water Safety

  • Ensure every member of your family learns to swim so they at least achieve skills of water competency: able to enter the water, get a breath, stay afloat, change position, swim a distance then get out of the water safely.
  • Employ layers of protection including barriers to prevent access to water, life jackets, and close supervision of children to prevent drowning.
  • Know what to do in a water emergency – including how to help someone in trouble in the water safely, call for emergency help and CPR.

What Does It Mean to Be Water Competent?

Water competency is a way of improving water safety for yourself and those around you through avoiding common dangers, developing fundamental aquatic safety skills to make you safer in and around the water, and knowing how to prevent and respond to water emergencies.  


Water competency has 3 main components: aqua-smarts, swimming skills and helping others.

Why Is Water Safety So Important?

It only takes a moment. Death and injury from drownings happen every day in home pools and tubs, at the beach or in oceans, lakes, rivers and streams, bathtubs, and even buckets.


The Aqua-Smart Foundation believes that by working together to improve water competency – which includes swimming skills, being aqua smart and helping others – water activities can be safer… and just as much fun.


Take these sensible precautions when you are around water, even if you are not swimming:


  • Know your limitations, including physical fitness, and medical conditions.
  • Never swim alone; swim with lifeguards and/or water watchers present, and with a buddy.
  • Wear a Coast Guard-approved life-jacket appropriate for your weight and size and the water activity. Always wear a life jacket while boating, and leisure water sports regardless of swimming skill.
  • Never swim while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, including medication.
  • Understand the dangers of hyperventilation and hypoxic blackout.
  • Know how to call for help.

Understand and adjust for the unique risks of the water environment you are in, such as: 

  • River currents.
  • Ocean rip currents.
  • Water temperature.
  • Shallow or unclear water.
  • Underwater hazards, such as vegetation and animals.

Swimming Skills

Learn how to be able to perform these 5 water safety skills in every type of aquatic environment, including home pools, ocean, lakes, rivers and streams.


  • Safely enter water that is over your head, and return to the surface.
  • Go from a face-in to face-out floating position, rest on your back to breathe until help arrives or you can swim to safety.
  • Be able to rotate vertically and horizontally in the water to get into a floating position or to safety.
  • Safely exit the water.
  • Perform these skills in swimwear and fully clothed.

Helping Others

These actions will help your family avoid emergencies – and help you respond if an emergency occurs:

  • Paying close attention to children or weak swimmers you are supervising in or near water.
  • Knowing the signs that someone is drowning.
  • Knowing ways to safely assist a drowning person, such as “reach or throw, don’t go”.
  • Knowing CPR and first aid.