Drowning Prevention...It Takes A Village

THE SUMMER OF 2012 yielded a record number of drownings on Lake Tapps...a total of three swimming related drownings. The Lake Tapps community stepped up to bring hope out of tragedy by creating a multi-layer drowning prevention campaign to help swimmers and boaters who enjoy recreation on Lake Tapps and other area waterways stay safe. The Swimsafe campaign was launched in May 2013 with a goal of keeping swimmers afloat.

Swimsafe Key Messages

Know Lake Tapps

It's from a glacier.

Its' really cold - averaging 55 degrees below the surface's thermal layer! Your body loses heat 30 times faster in water.

The colder the water the quicker cold water incapacitation will occur.

  • Everyone's at risk, especially the elderly, children, people with lower body fat
  • Males (whose bodies generally cool faster than females) are at greater risk
  • An average adult has a 50% chance of surviving a 50-yard swim in 50 degree water

Know your limits

Drownings happen when you:

  • Are too cold
  • Are too tired
  • Are too far from safety
  • Have had too much sun
  • Have had too much strenuous activity
  • Don't know how to swim well
  • Use alcohol or drugs
  • Don't wear a life jacket


Know how to protect yourself and your loved ones

Weather and water conditions change quickly. No matter how good a swimmer you are, the water can overpower our skills. Swim safe!

  • Wear a life jacket when boating, tubing and rafting
  • Wear a life jacket when swimming where there are no lifeguards
  • Watch for shivering, altered judgment, blue fingers and lips
  • Learn how to swim
  • Learn CPR
  • Know what to do when in trouble


In an emergency

Do not hesitate, immediately call 911

Layers of Progress

Here's a glimpse of our communities' multifacitated efforts, both individual and collaborative, to support the Swimsafe campaign.

East Pierce Fire and Rescue offers life jacket sale and loaner programs.  Life jackets are available at a discounted rate of $14. Our life jacket loaner program allows swimmers to borrow a free life jacket for short term/day use.

Bonney Lake Police Department's Marine Service Unit conducts safety ramp inspections and regularly patrol Lake Tapps' waters.

Bonney Lake Police Department also delivers water safety assemblies to all elementary school children throughout the Sumner-Bonney Lake and Dieringer School Districts. EPFR partners with BLPD to facilitate pre-order life jacket sales at the assemblies. Approximately 100 life jackets are sold and fitted to students during the assemblies.  

Pierce County dedicated a memorial to those lost on the lake. The memorial is located at Pierce County's North Tapps Park.

The seventh grade students of North Tapps Middle School's class of 2013 explored various measures to improve water safety on Lake Tapps and came up with their own ideas to improve water safety at Bonney Lake's Allan Yorke Park. Mayor Neil Johnson gave the go-ahead for the students to install a lake water temperature display, and erect a memorial wall dedicated drowning victims at Lake Tapps. Work and funding continues on the water temperature display. 

Swimsafe Sponsors

These agencies have been meeting regularly to develop strategies and a community education program designed to promote water safety.

Although East Pierce Fire and Rescue, Bonney Lake Police and Pierce County Sheriff each have aggressive water safety programs in place, combining efforts with Swimsafe campaign's other partner agencies provides an even stronger message with a broader reach.

“...it is a rare occurrence for a year to go by without at least one drowning at the lake,” Former Pierce County Councilmember Dan Roach said.                                 

City of Bonney Lake Mayor Neil Johnson adds “We take safety issues seriously and expect improvements made at our parks will enhance safety as well as improve park users’ experiences while visiting Allan Yorke Park. Swim safe!”

“As owner of Lake Tapps, it’s an honor to work with the different agencies that serve the communities around the lake. Together, we strive to keep the Lake Tapps area clean, healthy and safe. Cascade is proud to help promote Swimsafe. We urge residents and visitors to enjoy the lake safely,” said John Marchione, former Cascade board chair and former City of Redmond mayor. 

Tools to Swim Safe!

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