Accidents can happen to even the most careful person, and knowing CPR can make the difference between life and death for a person who has suffered a submersion injury. CPR allows you to keep someone alive until emergency help arrives and takes over.
Familiarize Yourself with the Water
If you are swimming in the ocean, pay attention to the current. Even a relatively calm current can pull you up or down the beach a considerable distance without you realizing it. If you're caught in a rip current, swim parallel to the shore until the water quits pulling you away from shore. Whether you are swimming in the ocean or a lake, always jump into the water feet first. Attempt a dive only after you know how deep the water is.
Never Swim Alone
This is an important rule for adults and children both. In an open-water situation, both people should be in the water. While many people believe that having someone on shore counts as not swimming alone, in a large body of open water, someone on shore may not realize there are problems until it is too late.
Check Weather Conditions
Before heading out to swim, it is important to check the weather. Wind can create surface waves that obscure visibility and make swimming difficult. Recent rain stirs up sediment in the water and reduces water clarity.
Teach Children to Swim
The American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend swimming as a method to prevent drowning before the age of 5. Children 4 and younger are not strong enough to save themselves in the event of a water emergency. Older children should receive water instruction from a trained swimming instructor.
Ask About Testing
Find out if the recreation area where you are swimming routinely tests its water for bacteria and if it reports the results. Many beaches and lakes that allow open-water swimming routinely test water for enteroccocus, which is an indicator bacterium. If there are high levels of enteroccocus, high levels of human or animal waste are likely in the water. Not all areas regularly test the water, and those that do might not publicly post results. Swimming in water with high levels of bacteria can lead to infectious diseases. To be safe, if you are unsure of the water quality, cover open cuts and don't swim with your head under the water.