Water Safety Resources

American Red Cross

American red cross logoThe Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, Department of Parks and Recreation is an American Red Cross Training Provider and proud participant in the Centennial Campaign.

Water Safety 

Drowning is a leading cause of death for children. Together, we can make water safety a priority by using safety protocols.  

  • Even if lifeguards are present, you (or another responsible adult) should stay with your children. 
  • Be a “water watcher” by providing close and constant attention to children you are supervising and by avoiding distractions including cell phones. 
  • Teach children to always ask permission before they go near water. 
  • Children, inexperienced swimmers, and all boaters should wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets. 
  • Make sure to surround pools and spas with adequate barriers, including four-sided fencing that separates the water from the house. 
  • When at a beach, always swim in a lifeguarded area. 

What Does it Mean to Be Water Competent? 

Water competency is a way of improving water safety for yourself and those around you through avoiding common dangers, developing essential water safety skills to make you safer in and around the water, and knowing how to prevent and respond to drowning emergencies. Water competency has 3 main components: water smarts, swimming skills, and helping others. To find out information about these 3 components visit American Red Cross Water Safety.

Activity and Resources for Parents and Caregivers 

Banner with young swimmers sitting by side of the pool and American Red Cross logo

Pool Safely

Logo reading Pool Safely, simple steps save lives in blue and orange lettersThe Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, Department of Parks and Recreation is a proud partner with Pool Safely. Pool Safely is a national public education campaign from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Parents and families can learn crucial water safety steps to follow in public and residential pools and spas. as well as how to best teach children how to be safer in and around the water. Visit Pool Safely for tips and tools on how to keep children safer around water.  


One minute is all you need to take the pledge to make sure your family is safer around water this year. Adult and child versions are available.

Participation is easy:

  1. Take the Pledge (Spanish Version). While you may have previously taken the Pledge, because the Pledge should be taken every year, you should take it again this year. 
  2. Share a message about taking and sharing the Pledge on your social media accounts. 
  3. Tag three friends in that post, challenging them to #PledgeItOn (be sure to use the hashtag!)

STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math)

Banner with STEAM written in colorful letters and chalkboard drawings to the right

M-NCPPC’s Department of Parks and Recreation is taking a leading role to bring out the inner STEAM power in Prince George’s County youth by providing engaging and fun programming that builds confidence and a better understanding in the subjects of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math.


STEAM is an educational approach to learning that uses Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Mathematics as access points for guiding student inquiry, dialogue, and critical thinking. The end results are students who take thoughtful risks, engage in experiential learning, persist in problem-solving, embrace collaboration, and work through the creative process.

STEAM Festival  

STEAM Water Activities

If you ask a swimmer what he or she likes about swimming, you might get an answer such as “the feeling of gliding effortlessly through the water” or “the sense of weightlessness that comes from being in the water.” Being in the water allows us to experience movement in ways that are not possible on solid ground. For example, on dry land, gravity is a force that pulls us down toward the Earth, whereas in water, buoyancy is a force that lifts us up. These water activities are from the American Red Cross Water Safety Instructor program which demonstrates various hydrodynamic principles such as Archimede’s principle, specific gravity, and Isaac Newton’s second law of motion, the law of inertia, just to name a few. Become a certified American Red Cross Water Safety Instructor through M-NCPPC, Department of Parks and Recreation to learn more.


Safety comes first! Make sure any sort of activity you do in the water is appropriate for the swim level of the participant and there is appropriate supervision.  

Water Safety Tips 

Evaluating Your Natural Buoyancy

  1. Move into a tuck float position (see Chapter 5, Fig. 5-6B). Hold your knees against your chest until your body stops rising or sinking. Recover to a standing position.
    Did your back rise above the surface? If so, you float easily.
  2. Take a large breath of air, hold it and return to the tuck float position. Recover to a standing position.
    Did your back rise above the surface this time? If so, you have some difficulty floating and when floating on your back, you probably float more in a diagonal position than a horizontal one.
  3. Take a large breath of air, return to the tuck float position, then slowly let the air out through your mouth and nose. Recover to a standing position.
    Did your body drift down as you exhaled? If so, you do not float easily and are likely to sink while trying to float motionlessly.
  4. Move into a back float with your arms at your sides. Recover to a standing position.
    Did your body remain mostly horizontal in the water? If so, you float easily.

Changing the Relationship Between Center of Mass and Center of Buoyancy

  1. Float on your back with your arms at your sides.
  2. Move your arms above your head.
  3. Flex your wrists so that your hands (or fingers) are out of the water.
  4. Bend your knees.

What happened? Did making these changes in body position make it easier for you to float in a horizontal position? These changes in position move body tissue with a specific gravity of less than 1 (e.g., fat, air-filled lungs) toward your feet and body tissue with a specific gravity of greater than 1 (e.g., bones, muscle) toward your head, moving the center of mass and the center of buoyancy closer to one another and increasing stability.

Experiencing Lift Propulsion

  1. Stand in shallow water, anywhere from waist- to shoulder-deep.
  2. Bend your elbows with your hands in front, palms facing down. Your elbows should be about 5 to 7 inches from your waist.
  3. Hold your hands about 6 inches beneath the surface. Keep your hands flat with your fingers loosely held together and your arms relaxed.
  4. Rotate your palms between 20 and 50 degrees to press water out and then in. The total distance your hands move is about 12 inches. Although it may look as if your palms are flat and facing the bottom of the pool, they rotate from facing out to in, with almost no time spent facing flat toward the bottom. Keep your upper arms relatively still with a small rotation on each scull. Avoid “locking” your upper arms in place. Maintain a continuous movement, without stopping and starting at the in and out points of each scull.
  5. Keep your hands moving with an even tempo and pressure. When you get good “grab,” you may see a whirlpool develop over your fingers.
  6. Continue to scull and lift your feet off the bottom.
    What happens when you lift your feet off the bottom while making sculling movements with your arms?

Law of Inertia

  1. In a tight circle formation (shallow water), run clockwise for 30 seconds.
  2. Reverse direction and run counterclockwise for 30 seconds.
    Was it difficult to change your direction of travel? The faster the swimmer is moving, the more force is needed to change the direction.

Want to learn more? 

Become a certified American Red Cross Water Safety Instructor through M-NCPPC, Department of Parks and Recreation.