As temperatures rise, kids want to cool off, whether that’s in a pool, pond, lake, river, stream, or ocean. That means the risk of drowning is ever-present. With May being National Water Safety Month, now is the time for parents and caregivers to reinforce the importance of water safety and equip their kids with the essential skills to keep them safe in and around water.
As “America’s Swim Instructor,” the Y teaches more than 1 million children across the country invaluable water safety and swimming skills each year. With many pools closed last summer due to COVID-19, the Y wants to make sure that parents, caregivers, and children make water safety a top priority as they dive back into the water this season.
Here are five tips to ensure a safe and enjoyable swimming experience for all.
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.
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.
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.
Wear a life jacket.
Inexperienced or non-swimmers should wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket.
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 instinct 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.
At the Harrisburg Area YMCA, we prioritize water safety year-round. We offer a wide array of swim lessons for youth, adults, and infants – visit our Swim Lessons page to check out the next available session at your local Y! Don’t let summer sneak up on you – by equipping kids with the tools they need to be confident in and around water, they’ll be able to reap the benefits of exercise, bond with their peers, and take pride in their new swimming skills. Better yet, you can take heart knowing that they’re safe in the water.