Water recreation, whether you spend the day swimming, boating, diving or floating a river, can be fun for family and friends and the cornerstone of any outdoor vacation.  However, water can also be dangerous and present various hazards, especially for children.  Before you head out on Oklahoma’s lakes and waterways, it’s always a great idea to brush up on current water safety tips.  Read through TravelOK.com’s water safety checklist below and keep your family safe in the water!

  • Check your lake using our lake conditions search function for the latest information on blue-green algae.  Protect yourself by avoiding water that is discolored, or where foam or scum is present.  
  • Swim in safe or designated swimming areas only.  While not every location can have a lifeguard present, make sure to swim in established swimming areas, far away from hidden dangers.
  • Practice the buddy system when swimming.  Swimming with a partner will ensure that if an emergency does happen, someone is available to assist you or go for help.
  • Know your limits.  Swimming in lakes and rivers can be vastly different than swimming in your backyard pool, so don’t push yourself beyond your natural swimming capability.  Remember that more energy is needed to deal with changing conditions and to swim against currents.
  • If you’re not a strong swimmer or just learning how to swim, don’t swim in water that is too deep.  Always swim in an area where your feet can touch the lake or river bottom.  Stay safe and don’t try to keep up with more skilled swimmers.
  • Be prepared for emergencies.  It’s always a good idea to have someone along that is trained in life-saving skills, such as CPR.  Taking a free class at local organizations such as YMCA or YWCA can help save a life someday.
  • ALWAYS watch children when they are in or near the water.  Do not get distracted by phone calls, text messages or talking to others.
  • When children are swimming in outdoor bodies of water, a life jacket is always recommended.
  • Avoid swallowing water while swimming.
  • Avoid swimming in polluted or algae-affected water.  Check for visible signs and avoid surfaces that are questionable.
  • Wear ear plugs and swim goggles when appropriate.
  • Shower before and after swimming, and make sure to wash any cuts and scrapes with clean water and soap.
  • Check the local weather conditions and forecast before swimming or boating.  Strong winds and thunderstorms can be dangerous.
  • Watch the sun and prevent sunburns.  The sun reflecting off water can intensify the sun’s rays, so be prepared with plenty of sunscreen, hats, UV-protection sunglasses and protective, light-colored clothing.  Reapply sunscreen often.
  • Drink plenty of fluids.  It’s easy to get dehydrated when you’re active and out in the sun all day.  Drink lots of water and other fluids to prevent dehydration.  If you start feeling dizzy, lightheaded or nauseous, you’re probably dehydrated.  Drink fluids and seek medical attention immediately.
  • Think before you dive.  Only dive in areas that are known to be safe.  Diving injuries can be severe, so check the water’s depth before you dive in and identify any hidden rocks or other hazards, even if you plan on leaping in feet-first.
  • If you are boating, everyone should wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket.  In Oklahoma, all vessels must carry one wearable floatation device for each person onboard and all children under 13 years of age must wear their life jacket at all times.  Make sure that the life jacket is appropriate for the child’s size and weight.
  • Be aware that alcohol and boating do not mix.  While out on the water, you must be able to think quickly, since water and weather conditions can be unpredictable.  Also note that one third of boating deaths are alcohol-related.
  • Respect all water and beach closures.