New York State Department of Health Reminds New Yorkers to Stay Safe While Having Fun In the Water This July 4th Holiday and Throughout the Summer

Supervision, Swimming Instruction and Swimming at Places with Lifeguards Significantly Reduces Risk of Drowning

NYSWIMS Expands Access to Pools to Improve Safety for Children Across New York State

ALBANY, N.Y. (July 3, 2024) – As summer begins and ahead of the July 4th holiday, the New York State Department of Health reminds New Yorkers that drowning is a serious risk for both children and adults. Simple measures can be taken to prevent accidents from occurring and to reduce the risk of spreading infectious diseases.

"Swimming is a fun way of staying active and healthy in the summer, and with some simple precautions such as never swimming alone and ensuring pool cleanliness, swimming can be a safe activity as well," State Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald said. "Under Governor Hochul's leadership, New York State is making significant investments in expanding swimming opportunities across the state so that New Yorkers in more communities have access to safe swimming."

In the U.S., more than 4,500 people drown every year and in New York State more than 150 people drown each year. Drowning is the fourth leading cause of death among children ages 1-4 and the seventh leading cause for children ages 5-14 in New York State.

When someone is drowning and struggling to breathe, they may appear as splashing or waving, which is an involuntary response to try to stay afloat. Progression from struggling to drowning can happen within seconds.

Governor Kathy Hochul announced the NY SWIMS program in her 2024 State of the State address as recognition of these potential risks and the increase in extreme heat events due to climate change. The program will build out municipal pools in high-need areas, connect New Yorkers to the State's rivers and lakes, deploy pools in urban environments and invest in State parks and pools. It will also promote initiatives to help more New Yorkers swim safely by addressing the statewide lifeguard shortage, increasing swimming instruction and increasing amenities at pools and beaches.

Tragedies can be prevented by following these preventive procedures:

  • Keep children within arm's reach and closely supervised in or near water, even when lifeguards are present. Life jackets are not a substitute for supervision when in or near water.
  • Teach children to swim at a young age. This is one of the best ways to reduce their risk of drowning.
  • No one should swim alone. Almost half of the people who drown are alone in the water at the time of the incident.
  • Do not dive in water less than eight feet deep or of an unknown depth. Diving is a leading cause of spinal cord injury, which can result in paralysis or death.
  • Do not swim while impaired. Drugs and alcohol affect judgment, slow reaction times, and increase the risk of drowning. Almost half of all drownings of individuals over the age of 14 are associated with alcohol or drug use.
  • Pay closer attention to people with existing medical conditions that can increase the risk of drowning, such as seizure disorders.

Follow these tips to reduce the risk of getting sick:

  • Pool owners should maintain chemical safety to make sure it is not a breeding ground for germs. Check disinfectant levels at least twice per day.
  • Stay out of the water if you have open wounds or are sick with diarrhea.
  • Take children on frequent bathroom breaks and change diapers in the bathhouse or away from the pool to help prevent contamination.
  • Whether at a pool, splash pad or local beach, shower for at least one minute before getting into the water to remove dirt and other contaminants.
  • Avoid ingesting pool water which can make people sick.
  • Never swim in cloudy or discolored water.

See the NYS Department of Health's recommendations for more information about proper pool chemical maintenance and storage.

Find more information about safe and healthy swimming at

Find more information about swimming at beaches here.