Water Safety USA, a consortium of 14 national governmental and non-governmental organizations, announces the 2018 water safety message: “Become Water Competent." 

Drowning is a major cause of accidental death and can be a surprisingly fast, silent event. The ability to help others is an important part of being water competent because rescues need to happen quickly. Drowning situations can be avoided with good planning and being prepared.

"Becoming water competent will help make you and your loved ones safer,” says Catherine Barry of the American Red Cross, a founding member organization of Water Safety USA. “It will also help reduce the number of water accidents nationwide. Water Safety USA suggests that every person takes some time to become water competent this year.”

Water competency has three key elements: water smarts, water skills and helping others.

Water smarts include things like knowing your limitations, swimming in safe areas, knowing how to handle common water hazards and wearing a life jacket while boating.

Examples of water skills are jumping into water over your head and returning to the surface, controlled breathing while floating or treading water, swimming at least 25 yards to safety and exiting the water safely.

Helping others involves skills like closely supervising anyone in your care, knowing the signs of drowning, knowing how to safely rescue others and learning CPR.

To learn more about water competence and how to be safer, please visit watersafetyusa.com/water-competency.