Water Safety Month History and Impact

We love May! Not only is it when we start to get excited about a summer of fun in the water, it’s also Water Safety Month, a time when we share our passion for water safety with our FOSS families and anyone we can reach.


The goal of Water Safety Month, which is recognized nationally, is to draw extra focus to this critical issue before the summer swim season starts, in hopes that we can reach more parents and swimmers to give them information that will make them more aware and deliberate about water safety.


We are especially proud to participate in Water Safety Month because of its consistent, well-planned messaging and support from major organizations and sponsors that help it achieve its goals. Advocates like Foss Swim School and others both share official Water Safety Month messages and contribute our own efforts to spreading the word.


Eighteen years of Water Safety Month

The first National Water Safety Month was held in May 2007, making 2024 its eighteenth year. It was a merging of two smaller efforts, the World Waterpark Association’s National Water Safety Week (which was held in June from 2003-2006) and the National Recreation and Park Association’s National Aquatics Week, held in July 2004-2006. When they combined efforts, the National Water Safety Month was born.


By joining forces and expanding to a month of activities, National Water Safety Month grew in reach and impact. The national association of the pool and spa industry and the American Red Cross joined in the following years, adding to its reach. Today, the group produces and organizes “educational programs, public service announcements, governmental proclamations, dealer and business promotions, and easy-to-access water safety materials.”


Key water safety facts – and signs of progress

One important and consistent message of Water Safety Month is that everyone should know the scale of drowning risks. Drowning is the second most common cause of accidental death for children, following only auto accidents (and first for kids from 1 to 4 years of age.)


  • 4,000+: That’s how many Americans, 20% of them under the age of 14, suffer a fatal drowning on average each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s about 11 per day.
  • 3 per 100,000: That’s the annual fatal drowning rate in the US. Adjusted for population, it has been largely steady since 2001; in the late 1970’s the rate was triple what it is today.
  • 8,000+: That’s how many non-fatal drownings occur each year (defined as a drowning incident in which the victim survived but needed to go to the emergency room.) These incidents can cause brain damage and other long-term health issues.
  • 87%: This is the percentage of drownings for kids aged 1-5 years that occur in home pools or hot tubs, according to the American Red Cross. Older kids are more likely to drown in ponds, lakes, or other natural water.


Promisingly, we also know one of the best ways to reduce drowning risk in children: Learning to swim.

  • 88%: The estimated drowning risk reduction for kids aged 1-4 years when they participated in formal swim lessons. (See the study here.)

The key message: doing what you can to improve water safety should be near the top of every parent’s to-do list, starting with never leaving kids unattended around water and including enrollment in formal swim lessons.


Check out FOSS Water Safety Month stories and resources

We have been celebrating Water Safety Month for years. Each year, we try to add something new and interesting to educate people and help them take steps to improve their families’ safety around water.

Of course, as the number one resource is swim lessons. We strongly encourage you to enroll at any accredited learn-to-swim program (including, of course, Foss Swim School.) We were founded with water safety as our driving mission, and we are proud to have helped hundreds of thousands of people learn to love water and become stronger, safer, more confident swimmers.

Looking for additional tips and tools? Here is a collection that we have created over the years:

We hope you have found this helpful and hope you’re looking forward to a summer of (safer) fun as much as we are!

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