Making Waves & Working Together to End Drowning in the Great Lakes

The Great Lakes Water Safety Consortium (GLWSC) is a “community of BEST practice" bringing together first responders, community leaders, park rangers, research scientists, lifeguards, meteorologists, survivors, loved ones, and other water safety advocates.

Our mission is to connect all groups and individuals interested in water safety to maximize our collective knowledge, resources, and actions to END DROWNING IN THE GREAT LAKES.

L i f e s a v i n g   W a t e r   S a f e t y   T i p s

The Great Lakes Water Safety Consortium's many experts have compiled the best of their lifesaving advice. 

If you would like to view a printable brochure with these tips and more, click here. Please share with everyone you know.


AVOID Drowning – Be Current Smart

  • Know Before You Go – Check the National Weather Service for forecasts about dangerous waves & currents.

  • Stay Dry When Waves Are High – Whitewater/waves as little as 2-3 feet high can generate dangerous currents.

  • When in Doubt, Don’t Go Out – Respect the power of the water and don’t take chances.

  • Buddy Up – Never swim alone, there’s safety in numbers.

  • Wear a Life Jacket – Don't just bring it, wear it.

  • Steer Clear of the Pier – Most current-related incidents occur near structures.


ESCAPE Drowning – Be a Survivor

  • Don’t Fight the Current – Even Olympic swimmers can’t overcome the power of rip currents.

  • Yell for Help – Call for help as soon as you realize you’re in trouble – the closer you get to drowning, the harder it will be to yell.

  • Flip, Float & Follow

    • Flip – Flip over onto your back and stay calm.

    • Float – Float to keep your head above water and conserve energy.

    • Follow – Follow the safest path out of the water – swim to the side (parallel to shore) and if too tired to swim, keep floating.


SAFELY SAVE OTHERS from Drowning – Don’t Become a Victim

  • Be a Water Watcher – Designate someone to watch people in the water as their sole responsibility.

  • Drowning Doesn’t Look Like Drowning – Know the signs of drowning – it’s not like Hollywood with lots of yelling and waving – it’s actually subtle and silent.

  • Save Yourself First – Don’t become a victim trying to save someone else – only go out with a flotation device (e.g. life ring, kayak, surf/paddle board, cooler, soccer ball) and keep it between you and the victim; have someone call 911 to get more help on the way. Wear a life jacket if available.

  • Preach, Reach, Throw, Row – Shout to the victim that help is on the way, try to reach them with a pole or rope, throw them a floatable, get to them on a board or in a boat/kayak/canoe.