It’s summer! Let’s swim, safely

It’s finally summer, the perfect time to visit some of the beautiful pools, lakes, and beaches in King County. However, we must prioritize safety, especially as recent news coverage highlights increased drowning deaths among kids. According to our estimates, at least 12 people in King County have drowned this year.

We must take precautions and keep ourselves and our loved ones safe while enjoying the water. Here are some tips to help you stay safe while swimming this summer.

Wear a Life Jacket

image containing the six types of life jackets approved by the U.S. Coast Guard
The five types of life jackets approved by the U.S. Coast Guard
  • Wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket when swimming, boating, tubing, or rafting. By law, children aged 12 and younger must wear a life jacket on any vessel under 19 feet.
  • Although wearing a life jacket can be bulky and uncomfortable, it can be a lifesaver in open water such as lakes, even for experienced swimmers or adults.
  • Open water can present unforeseen conditions, such as strong currents or cold temperatures. People wearing life jackets can remain safe and afloat until help arrives.
  • Coupons for 20% off the regular price of any life jacket in stock at Big 5 Sporting Goods are available through the Seattle Children’s Drowning Prevention Network at and the King County Water Safety website You can also search for the “Washington State Parks Life Jacket Loaner Map” to find swim areas that offer free loaner life jackets.

Lifeguarded swim areas

When selecting from King County’s many stunning open-water destinations, choose a beach or a pool with lifeguards on duty here: 2023 King County Area Public Lifeguarded Beaches and Summer Outdoor Pools. You can also see which open-water locations have Free Life Jacket Loaner Programs available.

Why are beaches with lifeguards so essential?

  • It’s often not obvious to identify when someone is drowning. Lifeguards are trained professionals with valuable skills in recognizing and responding to dangerous situations. Their presence ensures a higher level of safety, as they can promptly identify and address risks, provide first aid, and initiate rescue operations.
  • Lifeguards possess in-depth knowledge of the beach’s unique characteristics, such as tides, currents, and potential hazards. Their expertise allows them to advise swimmers on safe areas to enjoy the water, minimizing the chances of accidents or incidents.
  • Lifeguards are trained and equipped with lifesaving equipment to perform water rescues efficiently. Their swift response can be the difference between life and tragedy.

Have a great summer!

Originally published 7/14/2023.