What Does It Mean to Be Water Competent?
Water competency is a way of improving water safety for yourself and those around you through avoiding common dangers, developing fundamental water safety skills to make you safer in and around the water, and knowing how to prevent and respond to drowning emergencies. Water competency has 3 main components: water smarts, swimming skills and helping others.
Take these sensible precautions when you’re around water (even if you’re not planning to swim):
- Know your limitations, including physical fitness, medical conditions.
- Never swim alone; swim with lifeguards and/or water watchers present.
- Wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket appropriate for your weight and size and the water activity. Always wear a life jacket while boating, regardless of swimming skill.
- Swim sober.
- Understand the dangers of hyperventilation and hypoxic blackout.
- Know how to call for help.
- Understand and adjust for the unique risks of the water environment you are in, such as river currents, ocean rip currents, water temperature, shallow or unclear water, underwater hazards, such as vegetation and animals.
Learn how to perform these 5 skills in every type of water environment that you may encounter such as in home pools, oceans, lakes, rivers, and streams:
- Enter water that’s over your head, then return to the surface.
- Float or tread water for at least 1 minute.
- Turn over and turn around in the water.
- Swim at least 25 yards.
- Exit the water.
These actions will help your family avoid emergencies – and help you respond if an emergency occurs: