As temperatures rise, kids want to cool off, whether that is in home pools, ponds, lakes, rivers, streams, or oceans. And that means the risk of drowning is as prevalent as ever. With National Water Safety Month in May, now is the time for parents and caregivers to reinforce the importance of equipping their kids with essential water safety skills.
As “America’s Swim Instructor,” the Y typically teaches more than 1,000,000 children invaluable water safety and swimming skills each year. With many pools closed last summer due to COVID-19, the Y wants to make sure parents, caregivers and children make water safety a top priority as they head back to the water this year.
The Y is providing five tips to ensure a safe and enjoyable swimming experience for all.
1. Never swim alone or without a water watcher. When children are swimming, make sure they are actively supervised at all times. Teach your children that they should only swim in locations where a lifeguard is on duty, or where a responsible adult agrees to watch the children in the water without distractions.
2. Supervise your children whenever they’re in or near water. Whether it’s bath time or taking a dip in a pool or lake, make sure your children are within arm’s reach at all times.
3. Don’t engage in breath holding activities. Children should not hold their breath for a prolonged amount of time while swimming, as this can cause drowning and has several other severe physical side-effects.
4. Wear a life jacket: Inexperienced or non-swimmers should wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket.
5. Don’t jump in the water to save a friend who is struggling in deep water. If a child finds their friend in deep water unexpectedly, their natural reaction may be to jump in the water to try to save them. Even if a child is a great swimmer, a panicked person will overpower them and easily pull the rescuer underwater. The Y’s Safety Around Water program teaches the “reach, throw, don’t go” concept of using a long object to reach for them and pull them to safety. By using this technique children can help their friend without compromising their own safety.
As an additional resource to ensuring your residential pool is safe and the benefits of a pool safety plan, check out “Pool Safety 101: How to Stay Safe While Swimming.”
To learn more about the Greater Scranton YMCA’s Aquatics Department program offerings, visit www.greaterscrantonymca.org/aquatics.