Water Safety Tips for Summer

As the weather heats up and the water becomes more enticing, water safety is of the utmost importance. Knowing the dangers ahead of time is imperative to preventing an emergency.

Drownings are misconceived as loud and highly visible, when in fact, they are often silent and can go unnoticed. Water rescues are incidents West Pierce Fire & Rescue responds to with consistency, especially in the summer months. In 2018 alone, WPFR responded to 32 incidents on Puget Sound and our many lakes, which is on average more than two per month.

West Pierce Fire & Rescue has rescue swimmers and divers trained and ready to respond 24 hours per day should the need arise on any body of water WPFR protects. Training occurs regularly on a local and regional level to be sure any incident is executed flawlessly. Most recently, firefighters have trained with City of Lakewood life guards to work quickly and efficiently together, should there be an incident on a lake while a life guard is present.

In addition, emergency response partners, including West Pierce Fire & Rescue, the Lakewood Police Department, Pierce County Sheriff’s Office and Joint Base Lewis-McChord have a Water Resource Plan in place specific to American Lake, due it being protected by multiple jurisdictions. All agencies involved are trained to respond seamlessly together should an incident occur anywhere on American Lake in order to keep residents and visitors as safe as possible.

If you are visiting any of our beautiful bodies of water or swimming in a pool, please follow these water safety tips to enjoy the season safely:

  • Don’t just pack it. Wear your life jacket. Life jackets should be worn by anyone who is inexperienced or not a strong swimmer. If you are boating, a life jacket is required to be on board for every person in the boat. Use only US Coast Guard approved life jackets and not any sort of inflatable toys. West Pierce Fire & Rescue sells low-cost, custom-fit life jackets all year long to the public. Please call to make an appointment.
  • Supervise swimmers. Be sure to have someone dedicated to supervising those in the water. Drownings are often silent and can even go unnoticed before it’s too late.
  • Be trained in CPR. Knowing CPR can literally save a life. CPR classes are available through West Pierce Fire & Rescue every other month and trains participants how to perform CPR, basic first aid, choking rescue, and how to use an automatic external defibrillator (AED). More information is available at
  • Know your limits. Understand your limits, such as getting too tired or cold. Whether the depth or temperature of the water, be sure you’re comfortable and physically able to continue swimming. If not, know when to get out and rest.

The City of Bellevue had a tragic incident involving the loss of a child due to drowning, where in the video below, the child’s mother speaks out about the importance of water safety. This heartbreaking event is a reminder that being safe in the water is not something to take lightly.

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