Swimming Safety

Nearly every year the Air Force suffers a few drownings and the mishap locations vary from rivers, lakes and oceans to pools. Some of the drowning victims are sober, whereas others are impaired by alcohol. Tragic water accidents happen quickly. The most common reason for water mishaps is a lack of safety knowledge.

A recent American Red Cross survey shows that almost half the adults surveyed on water safety say they've had an experience where they nearly drowned, and one in four know someone who has drowned. While over 90% of families with young children will be in the water at some point this summer, almost half (48%) plan to swim in a place with no lifeguard. With so many planning to be in, on or near the water, it is important to follow the basics of water safety; maintain constant supervision of children and get trained!

Water Safety Tips recommended by the American Red Cross:

  • Swim in designated areas supervised by lifeguards
  • Always swim with a buddy; do not allow anyone to swim alone
  • Ensure that everyone in the family learns to swim well. Enroll in swimming instruction courses
  • Never leave a young child unattended near water and do not trust a child's life to another child; teach children to always ask permission to go near water
  • Have young children or inexperienced swimmers wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets around water, but do not rely on life jackets alone

CASE STUDY 1: A 23 year old SSgt went to the lake with his friends to enjoy camping, boating and swimming. After consuming alcohol, the SSgt and three friends decided to go swimming after dark. After returning to shore, the friends noticed the SSgt was missing. Search and Rescue crews discovered the body of the SSgt at the bottom of lake the next day. His blood alcohol content was 0.20.

BOTTOM LINE: Swimming safety can be outlined in a few key points:

  • Wingman Up - swim with a Wingman every time. Even experienced swimmers have drowned. If you are with someone they will be able to help you out
  • Know Your Limits - Don't overextend yourself. Take breaks and don't get fatigued far from shore
  • Swim in Safe Areas - A lifeguard can make the difference between life and death
  • Alcohol Impairs - Please don't drink and swim