Pool and Water Safety

The American Red Cross recommends the following water safety tips for visiting pools and beaches:

Water Safety Tips

  • Learn to swim. The best thing anyone can do to stay safe in and around the water is to learn to swim. The NYC Parks Department has free swimming lessons for kids and adults.
  • Always swim with a buddy; never swim alone.
  • Swim in areas supervised by a lifeguard.
  • Read and obey all rules and posted signs.
  • Children or inexperienced swimmers should take precautions, such as wearing a U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal floatation device (PFD) when around
    the water.
  • Watch out for the dangerous “too’s” – too tired, too cold, too far from safety, too much sun, too much strenuous activity.
  • Set water safety rules for the whole family based on swimming abilities (for example, inexperienced swimmers should stay in water less than chest deep).
  • Be knowledgeable of the area you are in and its potential hazards, such as deep and shallow areas, currents, depth changes, obstructions and where the entry and exit points from the water are located.
  • Pay attention to local weather conditions and forecasts. Stop swimming at the first indication of bad weather.
  • Use a feet-first entry when entering the water.
  • Enter headfirst only when the area is clearly marked for diving and has
    no obstructions.
  • Do not mix alcohol with swimming, diving or boating. Alcohol impairs your judgment, balance, and coordination, affects your swimming and diving skills, and reduces your body's ability to stay warm.

Home Swimming Pool Safety Tips

  • Never leave a child unobserved around water. Your eyes must be on the child at all times. Adult supervision is recommended.
  • Install a phone by the pool or keep a cordless phone nearby so that you can call 911 in an emergency.
  • Learn Red Cross CPR and insist that babysitters, grandparents, and others who care for your child know CPR. The NYC Fire Dept. offers free CPR classes.
  • Post CPR instructions and 911 or your local emergency number in the pool area.
  • Enclose the pool completely with a self-locking, self-closing fence with vertical bars. Openings in the fence should be no more than four inches wide. The house should not be included as a part of the barrier. The gate should be constructed so that it is self-latching and self-closing.
  • Never leave furniture near the fence that would enable a child to climb over the fence.
  • Always keep basic lifesaving equipment by the pool and know how to use it. Pole, rope, and personal flotation devices (PFDs) are recommended.
  • Keep toys away from the pool when it is not in use. Toys can attract young children into the pool.
  • Pool covers should always be completely removed prior to pool use.
  • If a child is missing, check the pool first. Go to the edge of the pool and scan the entire pool, bottom, and surface, as well as the surrounding pool area.

The NYC Department of Parks and Recreation maintains 14 miles of beaches, which open Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. During beach season, lifeguards are on duty daily, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Swimming is prohibited when lifeguards are not on duty and in closed sections. Closed sections are marked with signs and/or red flags.

NYC Beach Restrictions

  • Swimming at 150 feet or more from shore is prohibited.
  • No motorized vehicles shall be permitted on the beach, except emergency and maintenance vehicles operated by the aquatic supervisory staff, lifeguards,
  • or operators
  • Water Sports: No boating, water skiing, fishing, scuba diving, or surfboarding shall be permitted in a swimming area when swimming and wading is allowed. Floating lines, buoys, or signs may designate separate areas for the above activities.
  • Swimming and wading are prohibited outside of established hours, at night, during lightning or a thunderstorm, or in dangerous or unauthorized areas.
  • Fishing: Fishing shall be permitted only in areas designated for fishing where swimming and wading has been restricted.

Other Water Safety Resources

Dangerous Underwater Breath-Holding Behaviors (DUBBs)

The Health Department requires the posting of a pictogram that informs swimmers of the dangers of underwater breath-holding behaviors—taking deep breaths, one after the other, before swimming underwater—and of breath-holding contests, to warn and prevent swimmers from engaging in these in these deadly swimming activities.

Download the Dangerous Underwater Breath-Holding Behaviors Pictogram (PDF).

The sign must be constructed of a durable, resilient, water resistant material (such as plastic or metal) and measure at least 17” in width and 22” in height. When reproduced from the image downloaded from the Department’s website it must incorporate the language, color, size of type, imagery and other specifications of the Department’s pictorial design.

More Beach Information