For a lot of people, and especially kids, summer means swimming. Depending on where you live, you may want to go swimming in a lake, a pool, the ocean, or even a big water hole created out in the middle of a field by the last big rain.  Regardless of where you swim, ensure that you and everyone with you swim safely. Keep the following tips in mind as a part of your plan to be safe.

Swimmer Safety

There are two types of people who enjoy getting into the water, those who can swim and those who can’t. Even if you are a strong swimmer you can still get into trouble if you don’t follow some basic guidelines.

Always swim with a buddy. It’s best if your swim buddy can swim, but depending on where you’re swimming you might make due with a non-swimmer, but don’t swim alone regardless. If you’re in a small pool where someone is able to reach you with a lifeguard hook or lifesaver ring should you yell for help or sink to the bottom, a non-swimmer might work. For any other instance, you need a swim buddy that can help you if you get into trouble.

If possible, swim in places that have lifeguards on duty. Even with a lifeguard present, still use the buddy rule for swimming.

If you’re swimming in a pool or any other body of water with drains and pumps, stay away from them. A pool or even a hot tub recirculation drain can create a vacuum strong enough to not only stick someone to the bottom, but they can cause severe injuries.

Non-Swimmer Safety

Non-swimmers should stay out of water that is too deep to stand up in to keep his or her head out of the water. In a pool that may mean getting in water no deeper than your armpits, while at the ocean (with the waves) it may mean no deeper than your waste.

Non-swimmers, much more than swimmers, need to be aware of the bottom conditions and depth. Again, even non-swimmers need to practice the swim buddy requirement.

Young People: Swimmers or Non-Swimmers

Never leave young children unattended near water. Never leave a child’s safety to the attention or responsibility of another child. Children require qualified and responsible adult supervision at all times while they are in or near water. This is also true while walking near the water (as when fishing or skipping rocks) or other activity that puts children (or adults) near water that could be deep, cold or have swift currents.

Boating Safety

Adults and children, swimmers and non-swimmers alike, need to wear Coast Guard approved personal floatation devices (life jackets) while riding on boats, jet skis, rafts or any other vessel that floats. One good reason to wear a life jacket is that the boat might stop floating for some reason. Follow all other recommended safety rules for boats as well.

Water Emergencies

Immediately check the bottom of the pool or body of water if anyone appears to be missing. Know how and when to call 911 and be prepared to provide CPR for possible drowning victims. If you get into trouble, don’t be embarrassed to yell for help. Act quickly in response to calls for help, and never assume it’s just a prank. Again, children need to be supervised 100 percent of the time they are in or near the water.

Finally, everyone should learn to swim as soon as possible. Children should learn the basic self-rescue/drown proofing lessons from a qualified swim instructor as early as possible. Swimming is one of the most popular activities in the summer, and it’s something that can be enjoyed by the entire family for little to no financial cost. However, water is quite unforgiving when mistakes are made, and it could cost someone his or her life. Be sure to include water safety in your plan to be safe.