Thank you, KTVB, for highlighting this critical summer safety issue during an interview with Tomlinson South Meridian YMCA Executive Director Mike Kapuscinski.
What should Treasure Valley Families know when talking about water safety?
- As America’s swim instructor, the Y teaches individuals of all ages and backgrounds—kids and adults—that water should be fun, not feared. And that can happen if you know how to stay safe around water.
- Drowning can happen nearly anywhere with standing water, but caregivers can’t keep children sidelined. By equipping kids with the tools they need to be confident around water, they’ll reap the health benefits of exercise, bond with family and friends, and take pride in their new skills.
- But even with the best habits in practice, accidents can happen. We encourage families to swim in areas where trained lifeguards are present. They know how to react to any situation.
What are some water safety tips all families should know before a day at the lake or pool?
Just like caregivers teach kids to look both ways before crossing the street, it’s essential to teach children how to be safe around water. When guardians use these same practices, they become great role models for children. There are 5 behaviors families can practice when they are in and around water:
- Don’t swim alone. This is why the Y has lifeguards on duty. They’re trained to monitor active swimmers and know how to react quickly when something happens. Children especially should always be supervised when they’re in the water.
- Don’t play breath-holding games. While they seem fun, holding breath underwater can cause drowning and has several other risks, even passing out underwater.
- Don’t jump in the water to save a friend. While this might be our first instinct, the Y recommends “reach, throw, don’t go.” This means you can help your friend without putting yourself at risk.
- Enter the water feet first. Diving head-first in shallow water—or when you don’t know what you’re doing—can be dangerous. Know how to get in and out of a pool, and come prepared with life vests.
- Stay within designated swim areas. Regardless of if you’re in a pool, ocean, or lake, designated areas are there for a reason. Teach children to stay within ropes, away from pool drains, and to be aware of signage.
What are the best ways to make sure children are prepared to be safe in the water?
- The best way to teach water safety is to enroll children in swim lessons. These classes not only teach how to swim, but it helps children avoid dangerous situations and know how to navigate them if they arise.
- More than 100 years ago, the Y created the concept of group swim lessons. Today, we teach more than 1 million children water safety and swimming skills every year.
- Good swim programs have instructors in the water with students and instructors who are certified in first aid/CPR
- A place for families to observe
- Small class sizes and
- Instruction in survival skills before teaching strokes and techniques
Idaho is in the top ten for its high rate of unintentional drownings. Irrigation canals, rivers, unguarded swimming pools, lakes, and boating-related incidents account for an average of 11 drowning deaths per day in the U.S.
- In the U.S., someone dies from drowning every 10 minutes
- 1 out of every 5 drowning victims is a child
- Drowning is the #2 leading cause of death for children ages 5-14
- 9 in 10 U.S. parents see swimming as a key life skill for children
- Swim lessons significantly reduce the risk of drowning, especially for children ages 1-4
- 24% of U.S. parents have low confidence with water activities or in bodies of water
-Provided by YMCA USA