Safe Swimming in COVID times

As the weather gets warmer, you may want to go to the beach to enjoy the rivers and lakes in our area. Each year, we promote the safest lifeguarded swimming destinations in King County. Lifeguards are trained to support safe swimming and spot a swimmer at risk, and they can quickly jump in to provide aid and save a life.

But this summer, due to COVID-19 spread and budget cuts, many beaches in Seattle and King County do not – or likely will not – have a lifeguard on duty, and many will remain closed. Additionally, many swim lesson programs are cancelled, and most open beaches will not have life jacket loaner stations available this year.

So what can you do to beat the heat? Regardless of whether you’re enjoying water in a pool, lake or neighborhood sprinkler, it’s important to practice both basic COVID-19 and water safety principles:

  • Always supervise children in or near water. Stay within arm’s reach of young children in water, even if they’ve had swim lessons. Empty wading pools, buckets, or water tables when not in use.
  • Stay home as much as possible. A small wading pool, sprinkler, or even buckets of water can cool you off and be fun for kids.
  • If you go out, maintain at least 6 feet of distance from others, both in and out of the water.
  • Wear a cloth face covering or mask when not swimming.
  • Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer often.
  • Do not swim at closed beaches. They may be closed for water quality issues or other safety hazards, not just because of COVID-19.
  • Wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket while swimming in open water. Be sure that everyone wears properly fitted life jackets if you’re boating, paddling, rafting or inner tubing. Children under 12 are required to wear a life jacket in small vessels, and it’s a good idea for everyone, especially on rivers where water conditions and hazards change quickly. Learn more about low cost life jackets and get a 25% off coupon here.

If you choose to go out, we still strongly recommend swimming in lifeguarded areas. As of 7/15/20, Medina Beach Park has a lifeguard on duty daily from 12 PM – 6 PM. Plans are subject to change, and it’s best to check in with city or county parks office for the latest updates on hours and closures. Other beaches may add lifeguards as King County moves to other phases of COVID-19 Safe Start.

For more information about how to stay safe in the water this summer, visit Public Health – Seattle & King County Water Safety.

Originally published July 15, 2020.