Red Cross shares critical water safety tips

Swim season is almost here! Resources help you be “water smart”

VermontBiz The American Red Cross encourages families to prepare for the fast-approaching summer swim season by learning to be “water smart.” Research shows that participation in formal water safety and swim lessons can reduce the risk of drowning by 88% for one to four-year-olds.

"Before families head out to pools, parks and lakes, it’s important for all family members to learn and review critical water safety skills,” said Stephanie Couturier, chief executive officer, Red Cross Northern New England Region. “Knowing fundamental Red Cross water safety skills will help you feel more prepared for fun outings in, on and around the water.”

Each year, more than 2.5 million people learn to swim through Red Cross lifesaving aquatics programs. These programs incorporate the latest science-based curriculum and industry best practices, helping to keep individuals and families safer while enjoying water activities. Through this work, over the last century, the Red Cross has helped to reduce accidental drownings by nearly 90% nationwide. In 2023, four Vermont providers enrolled 3,074 youth in Red Cross aquatics and water safety classes.

“Preventing unsupervised access to water, providing constant, active adult supervision and knowing how to swim are critical layers of protection to help prevent drowning,” said Connie Harvey, director of Aquatics Centennial and Survival Programs for the Red Cross. 

IMPORTANT WATER SAFETY TIPS This summer, remember these four water safety tips.

  • Nobody should ever swim alone – adults and teens as well as children. Never leave a young child unattended near water, and do not trust a child’s life to another child.  
  • It’s best to always designate a “water watcher” who will keep a close eye and constant attention on children and weaker swimmers in, on and around water until the next water watcher takes over. 
  • Have young children or inexperienced swimmers wear properly fitted U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets around water, but do not rely on life jackets alone.  
  • Reach or throw, don't go! In the event of an emergency, reach or throw an object to the person in trouble and tell them to grab on. Don’t go in! You could be in danger of drowning yourself.

We encourage families to educate themselves on safer water habits, to learn to swim and know how to handle emergencies,” said Harvey. “Our aquatic training providers offer swim education and classes for both children and adults. We recommend that you also learn first aid and CPR, so you’ll know what to do until help arrives.”

WHALE TALES FOR CHILDREN The Red Cross recently revamped its Longfellow’s WHALE Tales Water Safety for Children program. The no-cost program is designed to help children from all backgrounds in kindergarten through 5th grade learn vital water safety behaviors without having to be in or near the water.

Educators, swim instructors, parents, caregivers and others can teach critical water safety lessons to children before the swim season kicks off. WHALE Tales are short, engaging and age-appropriate lessons that cover important water safety topics in different environments such as pools, waterparks, oceans, lakes and rivers. The free downloadable resources include lesson plans, course presentations and engaging materials such as videos and activity sheets and can be accessed at If you’re a parent or caregiver teaching your own children, visit

COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIPS Our Aquatics Centennial Campaign, launched in 2014 to recognize 100 years of Red Cross leadership in swimming and water safety, is active in nearly 100 communities across the country. The program works to reduce drowning rates in locations where drowning rates are above the national average alongside valued community partners.

GET STARTED TODAY Go to for swim program information and a variety of resources. The Red Cross Swim app can help children and adults learn with kid-friendly video and activities on mobile devices. Do your part. Be “water smart.”


About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides comfort to victims of disasters; supplies about 40% of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; distributes international humanitarian aid; and supports veterans, military members and their families. The Red Cross is a nonprofit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to deliver its mission. For more information, please visit or, or follow us on social media.


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