Water Safety

Swimming and water sports are fun ways to beat the summer heat and are popular with residents and visitors to Wisconsin. But pools and beaches can be dangerous if simple precautions aren't taken. Take time to keep your family safe by reviewing the information and resources below on Pool Safety and Ocean, Lake, River and Pond Safety.

For more information contact Ministry Saint Joseph’s Hospital Injury Prevention Line at 715.387.9600.

Swimming Pool Safety

Click here to Download Swimming Pool Safety PDF


In 2006, drowning claimed the lives of approximately 1,100 children younger than 20 years of age. Toddlers and teenage boys are at greatest risk.


  • Children should NEVER swim alone.
  • Never take your eyes off children in the pool – not even for a moment! If you’re in a group, take turns with other adults to be a designated “water watcher.”
  • If you are the designated “water watcher,” stay alert and avoid distractions like reading, conversing with others or talking on the telephone.


  • Help prevent childhood drowning by having young children and non or weak swimmers wear life jackets when they are in or near water. Wearing life jackets saves children's lives.
  • Don't rely on inflatable arm bands or other inflatable toys for safety; keep children who cannot swim within arm’s reach.
  • Learn infant and child CPR.
  • Teach children how to tread water, float and get out of the pool.
  • Enroll your child in swim lessons. CAUTION: swimming lessons will not provide “drown-proofing” for children of any age.
  • Teach children not to dive or jump into shallow water.
  • Teach children that they should never run, push or jump on others in the pool.
  • Teach children to stay away from pool and hot tub drains.
  • Tie long hair up securely to guard against drain entanglement.


  • Keep a telephone, emergency phone numbers, and CPR instructions nearby in case of an emergency.
  • Install four-sided fencing with self-closing and self-latching gates around a pool to isolate it from the house and yard.
  • Keep the gates to the pool latched.
  • Keep lifesaving equipment by the pool.
  • Remember, drowning is not the only danger. If you see storm clouds or hear thunder, get out of the pool immediately to avoid the risk of electrocution.

Ocean, Lake, River, and Pond Safety  

 Click here to Download Ocean, Lake, River and Pond Safety PDF


Who's at Risk

The majority of drownings in the U.S., for all ages, occur in oceans, lakes, ponds, and rivers. It is estimated that 85% of boating related drownings could have been prevented if the victim had been wearing a personal flotation device, a life jacket.

Safe Swimming

  • Swim with a partner or a group. Swimming in numbers dramatically reduces the risk of injury and drowning.
  • Avoid swift-moving water and currents. They can pose great risk to even expert swimmers.
  • Don’t overestimate your ability to swim, and know your capacity for rescuing another person.
  • Never dive in cloudy or murky water.
  • Strictly obey all “No Diving” signs – they’re meant to prevent you from diving into an unsafe body of water, not to keep you from having fun.

Personal Flotation Device

  • The sizing of life jackets is based on body weight and chest. A life jacket should be adjusted to fit snuggly. A properly fitted life jacket will not ride higher that the wearer’s ears or mouth.
  • A life jacket should be tested in the water to check that it can hold the wearer’s weight and that he or she can swim comfortably.
  • Young children and weak or non-swimmers should wear a life jacket in and around the water. The best life jacket is the one you will wear.
  • When boating, a life jackets must be present for each person on board and must be readily accessible. Best practice is to always wear your life jacket.

Boating Safety

  • Tell someone where you plan to boat/fish and when you plan to return.
  • Never mix alcohol with boating. Alcohol and drugs impair your balance, blur your vision, impact your coordination, impair your judgment and slows reaction time. A boat operator with a blood alcohol concentration above 0.10 percent is estimated to be more than 10 times more likely to die in a boating accident than an operator with zero blood alcohol concentration (U.S. Coast Guard Boating Safety Division).
  • Maintain working safety gear on your boat. Safety gear would include a fire extinguisher, first aid kit, extra life jackets, whistle, life ring, and a flashlight.
  • For more information about Wisconsin boating regulations, consult the current Wisconsin Boating Regulations and Handbook.


Sources: Safe Kids @ www.safekids.org, National Safety Council, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Trauma Society.

For more information contact Ministry Saint Joseph’s Hospital Injury Prevention Line at 715.387.9600.

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