The 4-Safety Program

Water Safety

Summers in New England offer great opportunities to enjoy the water. Rhode Island alone has more than 400 miles of coastline! There are many fun activities to take part in, from boating and sailing to lazy days lounging at the beach or swimming in a pool. 

Whether you are enjoying a day out on the water or prefer to stay on shore, it is important to know and understand the dangers that these fun activities hold.

There are several different steps families can take to stay safe this summer. If going on a boat ride, wear life jackets and know the state life jacket laws. 

There are different sizes of life jackets that depend on a person’s weight and height, and there are different types of life jackets for different boating outings. Boaters should also know the operator’s “float plan” and should be aware of the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning.

For those who prefer to stay on land, beach and pool-goers should pay attention to certain dangers. Children should always be supervised when swimming and the supervising adult should refrain from using any distractions, like a book or a phone.

Even adults should forgo swimming alone; it is safest to swim with a buddy or near a lifeguard. 

Swimmers should always be aware of their surroundings, whether recognizing rough surf and the threat of a rip current or knowing where pool drains are in order to purposefully avoid them.

Consider learning CPR and sign your child up for swim lessons. Remember; NEVER turn your back to the water when a child is swimming.

Water Safety Facts

  • Boating is fun, but it can also be dangerous. In 2016 there were 4,463 incidents that involved 701 deaths and 2,903 injuries related to boating. (Source: US Coast Guard)
  • In Rhode Island and Massachusetts state laws require children under the age of 12 (MA) and 13 (RI) to wear life jackets while on a boat. (Sources: and
  • Every year in the United States there are an estimated 4,000 fatal unintentional drownings (an average of 11 drowning deaths per day) and  8,000 nonfatal drownings (an average of 22 nonfatal drownings per day). (Source: US Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
  • Drowning is the number one cause of injury death for children aged 1 to 4, and remains a leading cause throughout childhood and early adolescence.  For each child that dies of drowning, an additional 5 children need emergency care for drowning-related injuries. (Source: US Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
  • For children ages 5 to 14, drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury death after motor vehicle crashes. (Source: US Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
  • Suction from a pool or spa drain can be so powerful it can trap an adult underwater. Children should never play near a pool drain or suction outlet, and all swimmers should avoid swimming in a pool that has a missing drain cover. (Source:

View more water safety resources

Boating Safety Videos

Proper Lifejacket Fit: Andrew Nathanson, MD, emergency medicine physician at Rhode Island Hospital, demonstrates how to properly fit a lifejacket.
Boating Safety: Andrew Nathanson, MD, emergency medicine physician at Rhode Island Hospital, discusses laws and regulations for safely operating a boat.
Lifejackets Versus Water Toys: Andrew Nathanson, MD, emergency medicine physician at Rhode Island Hospital, discusses the important differences between a lifejacket and water wings and similar toys.
Swimming Safety: Sadiqa Kendi, MD, pediatric emergency medicine physician at Hasbro Children's Hospital, discusses the importance of swimming lessons and learning CPR.
Pool and Beach Safety: Robyn Wing, MD, pediatric emergency physician at Hasbro Children's Hospital, discusses pool and beach safety.
Splish! Splash! Water Safety Song: Professor Pickerel and Professor Mackerel sing about water safety.
Pool Safely Song by Laurie Berkner: Learn how to stay safer around the pool with four simple steps.
Water Safety for Families with Children with Special Needs: Safe Kids highlights the importance of water safety for families of children with special needs.
Reagan and Jennifer, Why Water Safety Matters: Jennifer shares her personal story to help promote water safety.
How to Check Boat Safety Items: BoatUS Foundation President, Chris Edmonston, discusses the safety items to check for when conducting a vessel safety check.
Boating Basics - Safety When Boating: BoatUS Foundation vice president Chris Edmonston discusses safety measures to take when boating.
Be Boat Safe: Know what to do before you get on the boat and when you’re on the water.
Station Safewater (Part 1): This video is first segment of a kids' safety cartoon named Station Safewater, aimed at teaching elementary school-aged kids how to be safe on a boat, on a beach and while swimming.