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Learning Center & Safety Tips

H2O Knows: Water Safety for Kids and Adults

Missourians are all too familiar with the hot humid summer days that engulf the state during June, July and August. For many kids and adults, a trip to the pool, water park, river, or lake is a surefire way to beat the heat and have fun.

Water Safety for Kids
Water Safety for Kids

While water activities are a part of summer, these activities are much more fun when they are enjoyed safely. Follow our water safety tips and advice when enjoying a day at the pool, river, or lake this summer.

Drowning and Other Water Fatalities By the Numbers

Unfortunately, water activities lead to many injuries, accidents, and even fatalities. In fact, during the past year, there were nine water-related fatalities at Lake of the Ozarks. Across the state, 41 individuals lost their lives in incidents related to drowning, crashes, capsized watercraft, or other incidents in Missouri lakes and rivers.

These statistics from the Missouri State Highway Patrol only account for the fatalities in lakes and rivers; drowning fatalities and injuries in public and private pools are not compiled in reports.


Pool Safety: Tips to Follow When Lounging at the Pool

Whether families and individuals are enjo

Pool Safety Tips
Pool Safety Tips

ying a public pool or having fun in their backyard pool, safety is important. Not all public pools provide a lifeguard on duty to protect and aid swimmers; when enjoying any pool, common sense and safe habits ensure that everyone has fun without incident. Follow these 10 tips to stay safe in pools and minimize the risk of drowning and injury.

  1. Don’t swim alone. An individual might be an expert swimmer, but anything can happen. A simple slip could lead to falling unconscious into the water. Never swim alone.

  2. Supervise children always. While no one should swim alone, children should never be unsupervised near a body of water. An adult must always be present when children are swimming.

  3. Don’t run. There’s a reason why public pools post rules against running. Wet surfaces lead to slipping and possible injuries. In addition, an individual could slip, hit their head, and fall into the water unconscious, leading to a risk of drowning. Walk, don't run.

  4. Wait an hour after eating to swim. Jumping into the pool after eating can lead to cramps and other issues. Don’t swim immediately after a meal.

  5. Inexperienced swimmers need a life vest. Children and adults who are not skilled swimmers should wear a life vest. Inexperienced swimmers also should not venture near the deep end of the pool.

  6. Be mindful of pool depth markers. Most public pools include boundaries that indicate the depth of the water. Inexperienced swimmers and children should stay in shallow depths.

  7. Know the safe depth for diving. Plunging off the diving board is fun, but it isn’t safe if the water depth is inadequate. At minimum, the pool depth should be nine feet; however, springboards require deeper water. Diving head-first into water that is too shallow can result in injury and death.

  8. Avoid blue swimwear. The choice of swimwear also impacts safety. In the event of an accident, blue or greenish hued swimwear blends into the water making it more difficult to see an individual at the bottom of a pool. Wear swimwear with brighter colors; yellow, orange, red, and pink are all great choices.

  9. Stay hydrated. While swimming helps keep the body cool, the extreme heat causes dehydration. Don’t forget to pack water bottles and refill them during the day at the pool. Take plenty of hydration breaks.

  10. Know when the body has had enough fun. Every individual has a limit to how much swimming and outdoor fun is too much. If the body feels exhausted, get out of the water and rest. Not understanding the body’s limitations can lead to extreme fatigue, which is incredibly dangerous in any body of water.


Lake of the Ozarks: Safety Tips for Swimming in the Lake

Safety Tips for Swimming in the Lake
Safety Tips for Swimming in the Lake

Lake Ozark is home to Missouri’s favorite lake: Lake of the Ozarks! When families and individuals are enjoying the amazing lake, safety is key. Swimming in the lake is very different from swimming in a clear pool. At certain depths, swimmers cannot see the bottom of the lake. While pools have a predictable concrete surface, swimmers don’t always know what is beneath their feet in the lake. In addition to all the above safety tips for the pool, swimmers also need to abide by these five safety tips when enjoying the lake this summer:

  1. Wear a life vest or keep a life vest nearby. Experienced swimmers might not feel that they need a life vest. This assumption is dangerous. The depth of the Lake of the Ozarks reaches 130 feet. Swimmers could find that they swam too far and have reached vast depths; when fatigue sets in, there isn’t an option to touch the bottom for slight relief. Always take a flotation device and keep it near.

  2. Never swim while intoxicated. This rule should be a no-brainer. Unfortunately, many who visit the lake party in excess and then venture into the water. Alcohol inhibits common sense and impairs motor skills. Keep the alcohol on land, and don’t swim after imbibing.

  3. Pay attention to the weather. Lightning and water don’t mix. In addition, storms create waves and rough water. Be mindful of the weather and get out of the water when a storm looms.

  4. Look before you leap. Pools have markings that indicate depth, lakes do not. Never assume that the depth is safe for diving. In addition, a log or other item could hide beneath the surface. Be mindful before jumping into the water, and do not dive head-first.

  5. Be aware of boats. If the family has decided to drop anchor and swim in the middle of the lake, be aware that other boaters could be nearby. Don’t plunge underwater and always remain aware of the surroundings.


Missouri River Swimming Safety Basics

Missouri River Swimming Safety Basics
Missouri River Swimming Safety Basics

Missouri is home to many rivers that are popular for boating, swimming, and float trips. No matter what river is the destination for summer, keep in mind that swimming in a river is not for everyone. While any body of water can be dangerous, swimmers must be incredibly mindful when navigating rivers.

Rivers feature swift currents, rough rapids and hidden logs and boulders beneath the surface. In addition, since rivers can flow swiftly, the surface might hide a fast and powerful undertow current that can pull down a swimmer. When enjoying a day on the river, all the above safety tips apply, and swimmers also need to keep in mind these 10 additional rules:

  1. Never forget a life vest, and always wear the vest while swimming. While lake swimmers always need to keep a vest on hand, river swimmers should wear them without question. Swift currents can catch swimmers by surprise, and they may lurk beneath the surface. Never enter the river without a flotation device.

  2. If the water is still, it is likely to be very deep. The adage “still water runs deep,” is true. Understand that still water also can hide debris and undertows.

  3. Currents are dangerous, but swimmers should not panic if they are caught in the current. To navigate the current, swim at a 45-degree angle toward the closest shoreline. Never swim against the current.

  4. Be aware of river life. Missouri is home to many snakes; several poisonous varieties live in rivers. Watch for snakes and swim away from them.

  5. Wear river shoes. Most Missourians own a pair of water shoes; always wear these shoes in shallow water to ensure that feet aren’t injured and cut on rocks. Take shoes off when swimming, though.

  6. Abide by warning signs. Most state parks and swimming areas post signs about river safety conditions. Yellow signs indicate moderately dangerous conditions. Red signs warn against swimming. Be mindful of the signs. Even a yellow sign could indicate hazardous conditions for swimmers.

  7. Be aware of flood conditions. Rivers often flood in Missouri. Never, ever swim in a river that is at flood stage. Always check flood stage conditions before enjoying a day at the river.

  8. Look out for sewage spills. Some areas could dump waste into the river. Be on the lookout for any drains or runoffs. Never swim in these areas.

  9. Find the best river for the activity. Every river in Missouri is unique. The Meramec is popular for float trips, kayaking, and swimming. The Missouri River is great for boat trips or fishing. Research the river and discover if it’s the best choice for the activity.

  10. Avoid cave swimming. Some rivers run through caves. This could seem like an exciting adventure. Unfortunately, it could lead to the swimmer getting lost or injured. Save the cave exploration for the professionals.

Stay cool this summer when swimming in lakes, pools, and the river, but also abide by rules to stay safe. Of course, don’t forget to slather on the SPF. Skin safety is important, too. The heat and the sun can be brutal in Missouri; regularly apply sunscreen to avoid a bright red and blistered complexion.

Lake Ozark Fire Protection District wants to keep you safe. Follow us on social media for links to other articles and tips to stay safe year-round.

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1 Comment

Jad Adams
Jad Adams
Dec 06, 2023

Safety first! We appreciate how Pool Deck Restoration company prioritizes water safety for kids during pool renovations. It's reassuring to know that they go beyond just creating beautiful pools but also ensure a secure environment for our little ones.


May 25, 2024   |      Burn Day

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