Get trained this National CPR/AED Awareness Week

By Haley Heisley

June 22, 2018. Washington, DC. CPR stock photos by Roy Cox for the American Red Cross.

The first week of June (1st-7th) each year marks National CPR and AED Awareness Week – acronyms for procedures I always hear about, but up until I began working in the clinical healthcare setting, never truly understood how important efficiency with these procedures really is.

In my Nursing classes at my university, all students are mandated to be certified in CPR/AED by the American Red Cross. I was shocked to learn that no one in my class ever had to perform CPR or use an AED on a real person outside of using a mannequin during the certification class – including myself. 

How would I know if I was performing CPR effectively? A real person doesn’t light up green like the mannequins do if you are performing it right, so how would I know? What if did it completely wrong? To perform CPR and use an AED is something I am certified to do, but when realizing the major importance of these acts, I knew I had to do more research.

What is CPR and an AED?

People trained in CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) and AED (Automated External Defibrillator) save lives. CPR is crucial to maintain blood flow to the heart, and an AED defibrillator ensures maintenance of a natural heart rhythm by shocking the heart, which prevents death and/or brain damage. It’s important to start CPR as soon as possible, especially if waiting on an AED to arrive to the scene. Even though CPR may only deliver a small amount of blood to the heart, it is a critical amount that can be the difference between life and death.

When do we perform CPR and use an AED?

One of the most challenging issues with CPR is knowing when to do it in an emergent situation.

  • You can tell if a person needs CPR performed if:
  • They are not breathing.
  • They are taking gasping breaths.
  • If you cannot feel a pulse.
  • They are unresponsive/unconscious.

Once determining any of these factors, CPR must be started immediately to increase the risk of survival. CPR should only to be stopped if the person becomes responsive and stable or if an AED is present. An AED is extremely effective when used alongside CPR and increases rate of survival in the person.

Red Cross graphic: Learn CPR.

How do you perform CPR and use an AED?

The Red Cross provides us with step-by-step directions on how to perform CPR and use an AED.

7 Steps to perform CPR on an Adult:

  1. CHECK the scene for safety. Form an initial impression, and use personal protective equipment (PPE).
  2. If the person appears unresponsive, CHECK for responsiveness, breathing, life-threatening bleeding or other life-threatening conditions using shout-tap-shout.
  3. If the person does not respond and is not breathing or only gasping, CALL 9-1-1 and get equipment, or tell someone to do so.
  4. Kneel beside the person. Place the person on their back on a firm, flat surface.
  5. Give 30 chest compressions:
    • Hand position: Two hands centered on the chest.
    • Body position: Shoulders directly over hands; elbows locked.
    • Depth: At least 2 inches.
    • Rate: 100 to 120 per minute.
    • Allow chest to return to normal position after each compression.
  6. Give 2 breaths.
    • Open the airway to a past-neutral position using the head-tilt/chin-lift technique.
    • Pinch the nose shut, take a normal breath, and make complete seal over the person’s mouth with your mouth.
    • Ensure each breath lasts about 1 second and makes the chest rise; allow air to exit before giving the next breath.
      • Note: If the 1st breath does not cause the chest to rise, retilt the head and ensure a proper seal before giving the 2nd breath If the 2nd breath does not make the chest rise, an object may be blocking the airway.
  7. Continue giving sets of 30 chest compressions and 2 breaths. Use an AED as soon as one is available! Minimize interruptions to chest compressions to less than 10 seconds.

7 Steps to use an AED:

  1. Complete the CHECK and CALL steps.
  2. As soon as an AED is available, turn it on and follow the voice prompts.
  3. Remove clothing and attach pads correctly.
    • Remove all clothing covering the chest. If necessary, wipe the chest dry.
    • Place one pad on the upper right side of the chest.
    • Place the other pad on the lower left side of the chest, a few inches below the left armpit.
      • Note: If the pads touch, place one pad in the middle of the chest and the other pad on the back, between the shoulder blades.
  4. Plug the pad connector cable into the AED, if necessary.
  5. Prepare to let the AED analyze the heart’s rhythm.
    • Make sure no one is touching the person.
    • Say, “CLEAR!” in a loud, commanding voice.
  6. Deliver a shock, if the AED determines one is needed.
    • Make sure no one is touching the person.
    • Say, “CLEAR!” in a loud, commanding voice.
    • Push the “shock” button to deliver the shock.
  7. After the AED delivers the shock, or if no shock is advised, immediately start CPR, beginning with compressions.

By visiting our website for step-to-step narratives on how to perform CPR on children and babies and pets as well as adults.

Red Cross graphic: Cardiac arrest can happen at any time.

Why is CPR and AED efficiency so important?

If there’s one thing I want you to take away from this article, it is the importance of efficiency in CPR and AED. It is a life-or-death skill in which every minute matters in a cardiac emergency. CPR can save the life of suffering from cardiac arrest, which can affect anyone, including infants and children. Scarily, many cardiac arrest victims don’t survive due to the lack of professional help outside of the hospital setting. If more Americans were trained in CPR, AED or Basic Life Support (BLS), cardiac arrest victims would survive long enough to receive the professional help their bodies need.

Fear is another factor that prevents bystanders from performing CPR in the event of a cardiac emergency. A person may worry that they will suffer consequences if the person they are helping dies. However, there’s a law to protect these helpers in all 50 states. The Good Samaritan Law offers legal protection to people who give reasonable assistance to those who are, or whom they believe to be injured, ill, in peril, or otherwise incapacitated. Even if one is not certified in CPR, they are encouraged to perform chest compressions until EMS arrives. 

CPR and AED is so important to me after realizing how profound its impact can be in life or death scenarios. Many people are familiar with its components, but I encourage all to be more than familiar – and strive for excellence and comfortability in this area. It can make all the difference if faced with the event of having to save someone you love. 

Visit our website for full list of American Red Cross classes.

Red Cross Aquatics Centennial Swim Campaign promotes water safety and enjoyment

By Maureen Zug

Water Safety Instructor, Leila Horne, 17, teaches her students arm strokes during swim lessons as part of the Aquatics Centennial Campaign in Lee County, Florida. Photo by Connie Harvey/American Red Cross

For more than 100 years, the American Red Cross has helped millions of children, teens, and adults learn how to swim as well as become lifeguards and instructors. Commodore Longfellow began the Red Cross’s program of drowning prevention and the professionalization of lifeguards in 1914. As part of his original program, Lifeguards learned how to respond to water emergencies and were also trained in First Aid procedures.

The initial Aquatics Centennial Swim program was launched on 2014 in commemoration of 100 years of the American Red Cross’s creation of the first national water safety program in the U.S. Today it’s still the gold standard for aquatics training. Overall, aquatics training has made a significant difference. In the last century, the Red Cross has helped to reduce accidental drownings by nearly 90% in the United States.

The current Aquatic Centennial Swim 2023-2024 Campaign includes lifeguard training and swim classes in diverse communities, as well as targeted water safety communications for underserved Black and Brown communities. The updated program is based in principles of equity and inclusion.

As the result of historical Jim Crow laws, lack of access to pools, and stereotypes about non-swimming people of color, underserved communities have traditionally lacked swimming lessons and certified life guards. Centennial Swim aims to alleviate these issues and make the water safer for everyone.

Cait Waxler, Red Cross aquatic and public safety specialist for Greater Philadelphia and New Jersey, provided me with an overview of the current Aquatic Centennial Swim program for 2023-2024. She explained that since the Red Cross does not own training  facilities equipped with pools in our region, the Red Cross partners with certified third-party  providers to train lifeguards.

In the City of Philadelphia, the Parks and Recreation Department is offering $1,000 bonuses to attract lifeguards so that it can open approximately 65+ neighborhood pools.  Although the Aquatics Centennial program is not scheduled to be implemented in city pools during Summer, 2023, the Red Cross is acting in an advisory capacity to help build up a team of certified lifeguards so that Centennial Swim can be implemented in 2024.

Meanwhile, Centennial Swim will implement 50 program locations nationally in 2023. An additional 50 locations are expected to go live in 2024, including the City of Philadelphia. Locations have been prioritized by the number of drowning deaths which occur annually.  Programs in Atlantic County and other vulnerable New Jersey locations start up this summer.

The Red Cross offers a variety of free resources to help children and adults learn how to swim and observe water safety. Check out the links below.

Free Online Content

Free Online Courses

Free Mobile App

Red Cross volunteers place flags at veterans’ graves ahead of Memorial Day

Service to the Armed Forces volunteers continued the tradition of American Red Cross founder Clara Barton by placing flags on the graves of military veterans at two local cemeteries to commemorate Memorial Day. After the Civil War, Barton led the effort to mark graves of 13,000 fallen soldiers at Andersonville, Georgia. Photos from the two events are included below.

The Woodlands, Philadelphia

The first flag placing event was held on May 6 at the Woodlands Cemetery in Philadelphia. Established in 1840 as a Victorian Cemetery and Arboretum, the Woodlands was designated a National Historic Landmark District in recognition of its unique history and rich resources.. This gem of Philadelphia Parks is hidden near the VA Hospital in University City. Veterans interned here served our country in conflicts since the Civil War.

Photos by James Jones and Maxine Mayer. View the full album on Flickr.

Lower Merion Baptist Church, Bryn Mawr

Next, on May 20, volunteers placed flags on the graves of approximately 270 veterans at the Lower Merion Baptist Church Cemetery in Bryn Mawr. According to the church’s website, the cemetery opened in 1811 and includes the graves of 19 Continental Army soldiers16 veterans of the War of 1812 and 28 Civil War veterans. A full list of the more than 3,000 people buried at the cemetery is available from the Lower Merion Historical Society.

Photos by Frances Schwabenland and Erica Paulson. View the full album on Flickr.

Red Cross offers tips for a safe Memorial Day weekend and summer

By Dave Skutnik

Red Cross graphic: Bee ready for anything this summer.

As we all head outside to enjoy the sunshine and warm weather this summer, the American Red Cross Southeastern Pennsylvania Region has steps you can follow to help stay safe.

“Here in the Delaware Valley many of us enjoy spending time outdoors with loved ones as we head down the shore, up to the Poconos or simply hang out at home,” said Guy Triano, CEO for the American Red Cross of Southeastern Pennsylvania. “The Red Cross wants you to avoid any danger no matter what your plans include and offers steps you can follow to have a safe summer.” Visit for more information.

Red Cross graphic – Myth: Strong swimmers never drown. Reality: Unexpected water and medical conditions can cause anyone to drown.

WATER SAFETY Drowning can happen quickly and silently. Unless rescued, it could take as little as 20 to 60 seconds for a drowning person to submerge.

  • Learn to be safe, make good choices, learn to swim and know how to handle emergencies.
  • Provide constant, active adult supervision and know how to swim.
  • Swim in an area with lifeguards. Designate a “water watcher” to keep a close eye and constant attention on everyone in and around the water until the next water watcher takes over.
  • Wear your life jacket.
  • Reach or throw, don’t go! In the event of an emergency, reach or throw an object to the person in trouble. Don’t go in! You could become a victim yourself.
  • Swimming classes are available for both children and adults. Visit for a map of Learn-to-Swim providers in your community.
  • Download the Red Cross Swim app for safety tips, kid-friendly videos and activities, and take the free Water Safety for Parents and Caregivers online course in English or Spanish.
Red Cross graphic: Don’t go from this [image of normal grill] to this [image of grill fire.]

PICNIC, GRILLING SAFETY Summer is a great time to get outside for a picnic or to fire up the grill. Follow these tips to prevent illness and keep everyone safe:

  • Wash your hands, utensils and workstation before preparing the food.
  • Separate uncooked meats, poultry and seafood from ready-to-eat foods like salads, fruits, vegetables, cheeses and desserts. Use separate plates and utensils to prevent cross-contamination.
  • Bring hand sanitizer if your picnic site doesn’t have hand-washing facilities.
  • If you are going to cook on the grill, bring a food thermometer to be sure grilled foods are cooked enough. 
  • Always supervise a barbecue grill when in use.
  • Don’t add charcoal starter fluid when coals have already been ignited.
  • Never grill indoors.
  • Make sure everyone, including pets, stays away from the grill.
  • Keep the grill out in the open, away from the house, deck, tree branches or anything that could catch fire.
  • Use the long-handled tools especially made for cooking on the grill to help keep the chef safe.
  • Wash your hands before preparing the food.  
  • Don’t leave food out in the hot sun. Keep perishable foods in a cooler with plenty of ice or freezer gel packs.  
Red Cross graphic: Prevent tick bites – Avoid walking in tall grass. Apply insect repellent with DEET. Wear light-colored clothing to easily spot ticks.

OUTDOOR SAFETY Whether camping or just enjoying the outdoors, follow these tips:

  • If a camping trip is in your plans, know the level of ability of the people in your group and the environment around you. Plan accordingly.
  • Pack a first aid kit.
  • Take a Red Cross first aid and CPR course and download the First Aid app.
  • Watch for sprains, falls and dehydration.
  • Share your travel plans and locations with a family member, neighbor or friend.
  • Bring nutritious food items and water, light-weight clothing to layer and supplies for any pets.
  • There is a greater chance of getting bitten by mosquitoes and ticks outdoors Use insect repellents containing DEET (N, N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) when you are outdoors. Be sure to follow the directions on the package.
  • Consider staying indoors at dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants and tuck your pant legs into your socks or boots.
  • Use a rubber band or tape to hold pants against socks so that nothing can get under clothing.
  • Tuck your shirt into your pants. Wear light-colored clothing to make it easier to see tiny insects or ticks.
  • When hiking in woods and fields, stay in the middle of trails. Avoid underbrush and tall grass.
  • If you are outdoors for a long time, check yourself several times during the day. Especially check in hairy areas of the body like the back of the neck and the scalp line.
  • Inspect yourself carefully for insects or ticks after being outdoors or have someone else do it.
  • If you have pets that go outdoors, spray with repellent made for their breed/type. Apply the repellent according to the label and check your pet for ticks often.
  • Get rid of mosquito breeding sites by emptying sources of standing water outside of the home, such as from flowerpots, buckets and barrels.
Red Cross graphic: What should I do if — I have a nosebleed? I think I have frostbite? I hit my head? Get these answers fast! Download the Red Cross First Aid app.

Download the FREE Red Cross First Aid app so you’ll know what to do if emergency help is delayed and the FREE Emergency app for weather alerts, open Red Cross shelter locations and safety steps for different emergencies. Choose whether you want to view the content in English or Spanish with an easy-to-find language selector. Find these and all of the Red Cross apps in smartphone app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to

Don’t Fry Day: Protect yourself from UV rays this summer and always

By Robert Ambrose

National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention graphic: Never intentionally expose your skin to the sun.

Ever get sunburned? That is a very unhealthy event. While the pain fades, the long-term skin damage is inset in the skin. Even mellow tans are not healthy.

As we head into summer, what can be done? Cover up your skin in the sun, even in winter. In fact, Slip! Slop! Slap! and Wrap – which means slip on a shirt, slop on sunscreen, slap on a hat and wrap sunglasses.

Why is that sun so dangerous? The ultraviolet (UV) rays cause skin cancer, cataracts, immune system pause and will make you look old faster than normal. In fact, the Skin Cancer Foundation estimates that 90% of skin aging is due to the sun.

Instead of risking skin cancer, do not get sun-burned. Skip all tanning beds, make sure your sunscreen has at least Sun Protection Factor (SPF) 15. Use preferably more than the minimum recommended SPF 15. (I use 50 and later I will explain why). If possible, head for cover between 10 a.m.-4 p.m.– when the sun is most intense. Since the sun’s UV rays reflect, use caution around water, sand and snow. Plan activities according to the UV Index for that day (just google “UV Index” and it tells you the times when sunshine is most dangerous).

So you hear about “getting Vitamin D.” Instead of rationalize the facts away to head for the sun, tap vitamin D through supplements and fortified foods.

If you have a baby, then avoid sun exposure totally. Cover the baby up if you must go out.

An estimated one in five Americans will develop skin cancer sometime in their lifetime. Do not let that one be you. While it may be bad taste to discuss what happens if we get too much sunshine, we can say it’s not fun to report to the doctor’s office multiple times. Unfortunately, I know this from a family member’s experience. When it comes to the sun, I’m out. When I have to be in, I always Slip! Slop! Slap! and Wrap! (i.e., shirt, sunscreen, hat and sunglasses).

Keep the sunshine in your head not on it.

Know what to do ‘Until Help Arrives’

By Nancy Degnan

Red Cross graphic: Know lifesaving first aid skills. Be the help until it arrives.

Many times, when an emergency arises, the tendency is to shout, “is there a medical person available?” This excited utterance is a plea for knowledge or training to help sustain or save a life in need.

In most emergency situations, family members, friends, or bystanders, are the help until professionals arrive on the scene. The thought of this can leave us feeling powerless, however, according to a recent survey from the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP), four in five adults (81%) said they would be willing to help in an emergency if they took a training course.

Relying on their collective experience with assisting those in need and aligned with their commitment to providing lifesaving education, the American Red Cross and ACEP recently partnered to create a course called “Until Help Arrives.”  

“We are very proud to collaborate with the American Red Cross on this important program,” said Christopher S. Kang, MD, FACEP, president of ACEP. “With the right knowledge, anyone can respond if a medical emergency occurs. This course can educate millions of potential lifesavers with basic, easy-to-remember training, empowering them to be the help, until help arrives.”

Visit Until Help Arrives to learn more about the 90-minute online training that covers five fundamental actions that can be taken during a life-threatening emergency that can help sustain or save a life until EMS arrives:

  • Hands-only CPR (no breaths)
  • Automated external defibrillator (AED) education
  • Choking education
  • Severe bleeding control, including use of a tourniquet
  • Administering naloxone for an opioid overdose

The American Red Cross offers up-to-date lifesaving knowledge and skills through comprehensive training that includes First aid, CPR, Lifeguarding, Basic Life Support (BLS), and others. Visit Learn about American Red Cross Programs for more details.

Find out more on how to make a difference at

National EMS Week profile: Eileen Rall

By Judith Weeks

Eileen Rall prior to her deployment to South Florida to volunteer with the Red Cross Disaster Assessment team following Hurricane Ian in October 2022. Submitted photo.

National Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Week is May 21-27 – time to celebrate EMS practitioners!

This year’s theme is “EMS: Where Emergency Care Begins.” Eileen Rall exemplifies this theme.  She volunteers for both Emergency Care for Whitemarsh Community Ambulance Association and American Red Cross Health Services and Disaster Response for Montgomery County. She is frontline “feet-on-the- ground,” bringing medical care in emergencies and immediate relief for those affected by disasters.

One year ago, Eileen, a pediatric audiologist at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia for 27 years, retired.  She had been volunteering for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Region of Red Cross since 2021.  She was drawn to the Red Cross through her high school experience running a blood drive. On retirement she wanted to increase her work with the Red Cross and her first interest was Health Services.

To qualify, she enrolled in an accelerated, nine-week program and became a certified Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). While she initially thought she would use this new skill solely through Red Cross Disaster Health Services, she found a real passion for providing emergency medical care.  Now, she is a volunteer EMT with Whitemarsh Community Ambulance Association in Lafayette Hill, Pennsylvania.

In 2021, Eileen was a member of the Red Cross Damage Assessment team after the tornados that struck Eastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey. She has deployed to Florida twice, once in October 2022 to help with damage assessments and again in December for Recovery Intake, providing resources to those impacted by the hurricane.  She found the Recovery Intake role to be most rewarding because she was working directly with those affected.  She was consistently impressed by the resilience of the clients she worked with, and she developed long-lasting relationships with many of the other volunteers on the Recovery team. 

Eileen Rall deployed to Florida a second time in December 2022 to work with the Red Cross Recovery Intake team. Submitted photo.

Most recently, Eileen deployed to San Jose, California in April 2023 to help Californians affected by the extreme flooding. She served in Staff Health Services. It was her job to make sure volunteers and staff had access to the necessary health care.  She explains “it is important to make sure volunteers take care of themselves. It is a new experience for many. Some are on their first deployment, experiencing 12-hour shifts under difficult working conditions.”

Eileen and husband, Glenn, who is a research scientist, are empty nesters. They have two adult daughters, one who is working on her Ph.D. at Vanderbilt University, and the other who is in Manhattan working with a consulting firm. Eileen volunteers in her local PA State Representative’s Office and is a Ward Leader and a committee person for the Cheltenham Democratic Committee. She volunteers at a local food pantry and is active in her church community.

For Eileen, volunteering as an EMT and providing support for clients through Red Cross Disaster Health Services has been an extremely rewarding.  “I feel so fortunate to be able to support so many people through what is one of the most challenging time in their lives – whether on a 911 response, following a home fire or recovering after a natural disaster.”

Don’t wait to donate: Blood and platelet donors needed over Memorial Day weekend

By Biomedical Communications

Red Cross graphic: Blood donors needed now.

The American Red Cross asks people to book a time to give blood or platelets now to address a recent drop in donation appointments that could lead to fewer transfusions for patients in the weeks ahead. Type O blood donors are especially needed to ensure a strong blood supply.

The start of summer can shake up normal routines, but it’s important for donation appointments to stay on the calendar – especially as Memorial Day weekend approaches. More than 42 million Americans are expected to travel over the holiday, meaning fewer donors may be available to give. 

Appointments are critical this week for people waiting for lifesaving care. Download the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) to schedule a time to give now.

In thanks for making and keeping appointments, the Red Cross will help donors prepare for beach days and backyard fun as the season begins:

  • All who come to give through May 31 will receive an exclusive Red Cross beach towel, while supplies last.*
  • Donors in May will also be automatically entered for a chance to win a trip for two to the 2023 MLB® All-Star Game® in Seattle, including two tickets to the 2023 MLB® All-Star Game® thanks to the support of Fanatics, round-trip airfare, four-night hotel accommodations, a $750 gift card and more.*
  • Those who come to give June 1-30 will receive a $10 gift card by email to a merchant of their choice. Plus, they’ll also be automatically entered for a chance to win a backyard theater package including a projector and screen, projector tripod, smokeless firepit, Adirondack chair set and a movie night snack package.^
All who come to give through May 31 will receive an exclusive Red Cross beach towel, while supplies last.*

Amplify your impact − volunteer!  

Another way to support the lifesaving mission of the Red Cross is to become a volunteer blood donor ambassador at Red Cross blood drives. Blood donor ambassadors help greet, check-in and thank blood donors to ensure they have a positive donation experience.  

Volunteers can also serve as transportation specialists, playing a vital role in ensuring lifesaving blood products are delivered to nearby hospitals. For more information and to apply for either position, visit  

*Terms apply. See for details.
^Terms apply. See for details.

National Trauma Awareness Month – Prevention is key: Safety is a choice

By Samantha Munro

American Trauma Society graphic: National Trauma Awareness Month. Roadway safety is no accident. Prevention is key: safety is a choice. May 2023.

Every May, the American Trauma Society and Society of Trauma Nurses celebrate National Trauma Awareness Month (NTAM). Since being designated by President Ronald Reagan and Congress in 1988, National Trauma Awareness Month has continued to highlight and prevent major causes of morbidity and mortality in the U.S. – distracted driving, sports injuries, water safety, helmet use, red light running and more. The campaign, developed by the ATS and STN and supported by other trauma-based organizations, offers injury prevention and trauma awareness materials for use by healthcare facilities, providers and communities.

The American Red Cross joins the American Trauma Society (ATS) and The Society of Trauma Nurses (STN) this month in bringing awareness to “Prevention is the Key: Safety is a Choice.” While the theme focuses on roadway safety, we campaign for home fire preparedness through “Sounding the Alarm!” In fact, we recently achieved a significant milestone; Red Cross volunteers installed 2.5 million free home smoke alarms across the country through our Home Fire Campaign, a community initiative focused on preventing the loss of lives, injury and trauma caused by fires.

During Trauma Awareness Month, we focus mostly on physical trauma, but we can’t forget to include the emotional and mental trauma that occurs with a car accident or disaster ( natural or manmade). All of these traumas wound the soul, where there is no quick fix as with a car or a house. Thus, knowing the physical trauma you sustain during a car accident results in the emotional trauma that comes with it, we must continue to be vigilant in our everyday activities. It only takes seconds of distracted driving to change your life and the lives of others. Thus, “Prevention is the Key” and “Safety is a Choice” we all must make!

It is important to note that the American Red Cross not only provide physical help those who are victims of a disaster, but we also care for their spiritual and emotional health as well. Not only do those experiencing a disaster have to physically rebuild again, but they also must rebuild the soul!

Disasters will always be a hard thing to manage, but with more people educated on how to prepare and prevent, more lives can be saved! It takes us all working together, the community, law enforcement and national disaster relief agencies to lessen the impact on an already devastating situation! Be part of the relief by volunteering with Red Cross today!

Water Safety Month: Kick off swimming season with Red Cross water safety tips

By Yesh Kane

Red Cross graphic: Make Water Safety a Priority. 1. Know how to prevent drowning. 2. Become water competent. 3. Know how to respond to a water emergency.

As the warmth of summer approaches, families and individuals eagerly prepare to dive into swimming pools, lakes, and beaches. However, it is essential to prioritize water safety to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone.

The American Red Cross has been a prime advocate of safety and emergency prevention. For more than 100 years, Red Cross has been helping millions of kids, teens and adults learn how to swim and become lifeguards and instructors so the water can be a safer place for everyone.

The Red Cross created the first national water safety program in the U.S. — and today it’s still the gold standard for aquatics training. Click here to lookup water safety programs near you.

Build Water Competency

Drowning is a tragic and all-too-common cause of death, especially among children. It’s essential that we prioritize water safety to prevent such heartbreaking incidents. By developing water competency, which includes swimming skills, water smarts, and the ability to help others, we can make a significant difference in keeping ourselves and those around us safe in and around water.

Water competency starts with being smart about water. Imagine you’re at the beach with your family. You’re not planning to swim, but it’s important to be cautious. Know your limits and take care of your physical fitness and any medical conditions. Always swim with lifeguards present or with someone keeping a watchful eye. And remember, wearing a life jacket that’s suitable for your weight and size is a must, whether you’re boating or not.

Learning swimming skills is like unlocking a door to water safety. Think about it: being able to confidently enter water over your head and return to the surface, floating or treading water for a minute, and knowing how to turn over and turn around in the water can make a world of difference. Imagine if you or your child falls into a pool or a river—having the skills to swim at least 25 yards and exit the water safely can save lives.

But water competency isn’t just about us—it’s also about helping others. Picture this: you’re at a crowded pool, and you notice a child struggling in the water. By paying close attention and knowing the signs of drowning, you can spring into action. Remember the saying “reach or throw, don’t go” to assist someone in trouble without putting yourself at risk. And having CPR and first aid training can be a lifesaver in those critical moments.

Create Layers of Protection

To make water safety a priority, it’s important to create layers of protection. Imagine you’re at a backyard pool party. Even if there’s a lifeguard, it’s crucial for you or another responsible adult to keep a close watch on children. Avoid distractions like checking your phone and be a dedicated “water watcher.” Teach your children to always ask for permission before going near water. And for boating or water activities, make sure everyone wears a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket, regardless of their swimming abilities.

Sometimes, accidents happen even to strong swimmers. That’s why it’s essential to be aware of the risks and take sensible precautions. Imagine you’re on a lake, planning to swim across with a friend. Always swim with a buddy to watch out for each other. It’s also important to avoid alcohol or drugs before swimming or supervising swimmers, as they impair judgment and coordination. And if you’re boating or fishing, remember to wear a life jacket, even if you don’t plan to jump into the water.

Ultimately, ensuring that the entire family learns how to swim is an investment in their safety and enjoyment. Imagine the peace of mind when your loved ones have the skills to navigate the water confidently. It not only reduces the risk of drowning but also allows them to fully participate in water activities and enjoy the wonders of swimming.

Know What To Do

In the unfortunate event of an emergency, every second counts. Picture a child going missing at a pool party. The first thing you should do is check the water—it could make all the difference. If there’s a lifeguard, alert them immediately. Learn to recognize the signs of distress, like someone not making progress in the water, being unable to move or tread water, or appearing motionless and face down. Removing the person from the water safely, calling emergency medical services (EMS), performing rescue breathing and CPR, and using an automated external defibrillator (AED) if available can be lifesaving actions.

By promoting water competency, implementing layers of protection, and knowing how to respond in emergencies, individuals can contribute to making water activities safer and prevent drowning incidents, ensuring that water remains a source of fun and enjoyment for everyone.

Visit for additional water safety information.