According to statistics from the U.S. Department of State, drowning is the fourth leading cause of death of U.S. citizens abroad. It is not uncommon for students to travel to oceans, lakes and rivers during their study abroad program. Ocean and river currents have the potential to be imperceptible, swift and dangerous and are subject to change with seasonal weather. In many countries, there may be no lifeguards or signs warning of currents, tides or other inherent dangers. Students should exercise extreme caution when swimming abroad, particularly in developing countries where emergency services may not be readily available. Students should:
- Be aware of their ability to swim and should not enter the water if they are not confident in their ability.
- Swim at designated beaches with clear warning systems, where possible.
- Not consume alcohol before or during swimming activities.
- Never swim alone.
If your plans involve travel to a beach, lake or ocean, acquaint yourself with information about identifying and surviving a rip current. The United States Lifesaving Association (USLA) provides a resource on identifying rip currents and survival tips.