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Water Safety Tips and Resources

Posted on May 27, 2023

Dear Friends,

Summer is a fantastic time of the year with myriad recreation opportunities like hiking, boating and swimming available in easy reach of each of our 169 communities.

Sadly, every year Connecticut residents and visitors go missing while boating, tubing, and swimming. Anyone near the water or planning to go into the water needs to be aware of the conditions and use caution.

Canoeists and kayakers should scout all waterways before attempting to run the swollen rivers or streams. Waterways may have dramatically changed since the last time it was traveled due to high water, strong currents, and moved debris. Debris in swift moving water may catch a boat and force it and its passengers under the water, causing serious injuries or drowning.

Likewise, boaters on larger bodies of water should also keep a sharp eye out – debris may lay just under the surface of the water and can be very difficult to spot in the muddied waters.

In an effort to keep you safe, I’ve collected important water safety information and tips from several resources.

Swimming Safety

With the warmer weather finally upon us, many will be engaging in water recreation and activities. Water-related activities are some of the most enjoyable ways for adults and children to spend time together, especially in the summer.

Please take a moment to review these important water safety tips, to ensure that you and your families are safe while spending time and engaging in activities this summer.

Parents, watch your children. It only takes seconds for a child to drown, and this can occur silently once they’ve gone underwater. Please ALWAYS watch your children when you are in or around water. If you are more than an arm’s length away, you’ve gone too far!

Set water safety rules. Rules should be established for the whole family based on swimming abilities (i.e., inexperienced swimmers should stay in water less than chest deep).

Be careful of underwater hazards, and don’t dive in. Swimming in open water is not the same as swimming in a pool. Be aware of uneven surfaces, river currents, and ocean undertow.

Watch for changing weather.  Summer weather can change rapidly. Pay attention to weather forecasts, watch for changing skies, and get out of the water. Always be alert for flooding and rising rivers following storms. Remember, if you can hear thunder, you can be struck by lightning!

Always swim in designated areas. Swim in areas supervised by a lifeguard. Read and obey all rules and posted signs.

Learn to swim. The best thing anyone can do to stay safe in and around the water is to learn to swim. Always swim with a buddy; never swim alone. Children or inexperienced swimmers should wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal floatation device (PFD) when around the water.

Watch out for the dangerous “too’s”

Too tired, too cold, too far from safety, too much sun, too much strenuous activity.

For more information on water safety, please visit:




Boating Safety Links


CT legal requirements for boating


Boating/PWC classes in CT:


Requirements Specific to Personal Watercraft (PWCs)

In addition to adhering to all boating laws, personal watercraft (PWC) operators have requirements specific to their vessel.

  • All persons on board a PWC must wear a Type I, II, III, or V U.S. Coast Guard–approved PFD. Inflatable PFDs are not allowed. Impact-rated PFDs are recommended.
  • You may operate a PWC during daylight hours only (between sunrise and sunset).
  • PWCs do not have navigation lights, and you are not allowed to install or use navigation lights.
  • An operator of a PWC equipped with a lanyard-type ignition safety switch must attach the lanyard to his or her person, clothing, or PFD.
  • No passenger may ride in front of the operator on a personal watercraft. No passenger may ride on a personal watercraft unless he or she is able to hold securely onto the person in front of them or to the handholds, and is able to keep both feet on the deck of the personal watercraft in order to maintain balance while the personal watercraft is in operation.
  • PWCs should not be operated in a manner that requires the operator to swerve at the last possible moment in order to avoid collision.
  • PWCs are not allowed to jump the wake of another vessel within 100 feet of that vessel in such a way that the PWC’s hull leaves the water completely.
  • In addition to the speed restrictions given earlier in this chapter, PWCs must be operated at no more than “slow, no wake speed” when within 200 feet of a shore, a dock, a pier, a float, or a moored or anchored vessel except when enabling a person engaged in water-skiing to take off or land.
  • It is illegal to chase, harass, or disturb wildlife with your PWC.