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Swimming Safely in Pools, Open Water

Baltimore County averages about 8 to 10 drownings each year. The majority of drownings involve toddlers and young children. Safe swimming requires common sense and adherence to basic safety precautions.

Pool Safety

The Baltimore County Fire Department strongly encourages the following safety tips when swimming at a pool:

  • Never leave a child unattended. 
  • Do not become complacent or lose track of your child at a public pool. It only takes a second for a child to disappear beneath the water. Even the best lifeguard is not a substitute for parental supervision.
  • If a child is missing, check the pool first. Seconds count in preventing death or disability; brain cells begin to die after four to six minutes underwater.
  • Remove all toys from the pool and pool area when not in use.
  • Do not use flotation devices as a substitute for supervision. 
  • If there is a fence around the pool, make sure the gates are self-closing and self-latching.
  • If the pool is accessible by a pool ladder, make sure the ladder is locked in the upright position when the pool is not in use.
  • Always test the water depth before diving.
  • Keep rescue equipment and a telephone by the pool. Learn CPR.
  • Avoid rough play that may cause injury or drowning.
  • Educate your family on proper pool use.

Open Water Swimming

Swimming is illegal in the three public reservoirs in Baltimore County - Prettyboy, Loch Raven and Liberty.

Open water swimming poses different risks than pool swimming because of limited visibility, tidal action and unpredictable fluctuations in water depth and temperature.

Exercise good judgment about your swimming ability and follow these tips:

  • Never allow children to swim alone. Make sure they swim in designated areas. Check the depth and current of the water before allowing them to swim. Do not rely on "water wings" and other flotation devices.
  • Avoid swimming when a lifeguard is not on duty.
  • Always check the depth of the water and for hidden rocks and trees before diving.
  • Wear life jackets when boating.

Revised May 16, 2013

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