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The City of Portland, Oregon

Fire & Rescue

Always Ready, Always There

Phone: 503-823-3700

Fax: 503-823-3710

55 SW Ash Street, Portland, OR 97204

More Contact Info

Water Safety

Always Swim with a Grown Up
Play it safe in the water.  This means staying out of any body of water – the ocean, lakes, ponds, rivers, pools, hot tubs, spas, and whirlpools – if no grown-up or lifeguard is present.

Wear a Personal Flotation Device (PFD) when In or Around Water
When on a boat, everyone needs a seat.  If there is no seat for you, don’t go.  In addition, everyone on the boat needs his or her own personal flotation device (PFD).  Call your local Red Cross chapter for information on U.S. or Canadian Coast Guard-approved PFDs.  A PFD will add buoyancy to your body (to help you float), hold your head and body higher in the water for better visibility, and help keep your body warm.  Air-filled swimming aids such as inner tubes are not substitutes for approved PFDs.  Wear your PFD the entire time you are on a boat, when you are fishing, or if you are a nonswimmer or uncomfortable around the water.

Learn and Practice the Water Safety Rules
Here are some helpful hints for keeping safe in the water:
Swimming is a lot of fun and a good way to get exercise.  If you plan to go swimming you should take lessons.  But even if you have taken lessons, you are not “water safe.”  You still need to follow water safety rules and always swim with a grown-up.
Whether you are at a pool, beach, pond, or other swimming area, always check for a lifeguard.  Lifeguards make sure that swimmers follow the rules, and they are trained to help in case there is any trouble in or around the water.  Swim only where there is a lifeguard or grown-up who gives you permission to swim.
Follow the posted rules.  Rules are usually posted where you can easily see them.  Examples of rules to look for are signs that say “Danger,” Don’t Swim Here,” No Diving,” or “No Running or Jumping.”  Also look for warning flags.  Flags of different colors can mean different things.  Ask the lifeguard or grown-up for help.
Swim only when you are rested.
Never jump or dive into the water unless the lifeguard or grown-up says it is OK.
Never eat candy or chew gum when you are swimming.  You could choke and drown.
Running, pushing, or shoving people can cause serious injury to you or your friends.
When in the water, stay away from diving boards, slides, or boat ramps.
Don’t swim at night unless the pool is well lit and under the supervision of a grown-up.
Get out of the water immediately if you hear thunder or see lightning.
At home, parents should never leave a child unsupervised, especially in the bathroom or around even small amounts of water.  All containers of water, cleaning solutions, and other liquids should be emptied immediately after use and stored out of the reach of children.
If you’re in a boat, don’t mess around.  Sitting or standing on the edge of a boat or letting your arms hang over the edge can cause the boat to tip.
Stop, Look, and Test Before Entering Lakes and Pools
When you go swimming in a new place, always check with the lifeguard or a grown-up first.  If swimming in a lake, pond, or river, wade into the water feet first, never jump or dive.  Have the lifeguard or grown-up check to see how deep the water is – there may be branches, rocks, shallow areas, sandbars, or other dangerous items under the water that you can’t see.  Make sure you only dive in areas approved for diving – don’t dive off piers or rocks.  Always raise your hands over your head when diving.  Finally, never let your friends dare you into diving dangerously.
Be Safe on Ice
When is ice safe?  There is no sure answer!
-Before you head onto the ice, check with a grown-up.
-Skate or play on ice only under the supervision of a grown-up.
-Ice seldom freezes or thaws at a uniform rate.  It can be a foot thick in one spot while only an inch thick just 10 feet away. 
Know the Facts  
Drowning is the second-leading cause of death from unintentional injuries for people ages 5 to 24, according to the National Safety Council’s 1996 Accident Facts Report.  Approximately 5,000 people drown each year. Drownings may occur during swimming, boating, hunting, fishing, and even taking a bath.  Small children can even drown in a bucket of water.  The best thing anyone can do to stay safe in and around water is to learn how to swim and how to perform CPR in case an emergency occurs. 
Source: American Red Cross

Childhood drownings and near-drownings can happen in a matter of seconds and typically when a child is left unattended or during a brief lapse in supervision.  For every child that drowns, an additional four are hospitalized for near-drownings.  Fifteen percent of children admitted for near-drownings die in the hospital.
Source: National SAFE KIDS Campaign