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6 Water Safety Tips

6 Water Safety Tips to Dive into Summer with Confidence

May is here! For many people, this means it’s time for water -- outside pools, lake vacations and trips to the beach. In honor of May’s National Water Safety Month, the Y offers these tips to help you dive into summer and keep splashing all season long.

First: Why is water safety so important?

Drowning is the second leading cause of death for children ages 5 to 14. And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that one out of five people who die from drowning are children 14 and younger. Adding to this, the risk of drowning is greater for minorities. The fatal drowning rate for African American children is significantly higher than that of whites.

This is a need the Y takes seriously. As a leader in aquatics instruction, the YMCA of Metropolitan Denver provides swim lessons, water safety programs, and lifeguard certification at four branch locations and at neighborhood pools throughout Denver. We lead programs to bring free and low-cost swim lessons to underserved communities, and at every Y location, scholarships are always available.

We believe in helping all children – and adults – stay safe in and around water. These tips can also help.

1. Never swim alone.

Always swim with a buddy, and teach children to swim only in locations where a lifeguard is on duty.

2. Supervise children.

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.Remember drowning can happen anywhere there is water. At home, do not leave children in the bathtub unattended, and at the pool or lake, don’t rely exclusively on lifeguards or other swimmers.

3. Don’t engage in breath-holding activities, like breath-holding competitions.

Holding the breath for a prolonged amount of time while swimming or playing can cause drowning as well as 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 you or your child finds a friend in deep water unexpectedly, your natural reaction may be to jump in the water to try to save them. But even if you are a great swimmer, a panicked person can overpower you, pulling you underwater with them.

The Y teaches the “reach, throw, don’t go” concept of using a long object to reach for the swimmer and pull them to safety. By using this technique you can help your friend without compromising your own safety. 

6. Finally, to stay safe around water the best thing to do is learn to swim.

The CDC reports that participating in formal swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning among children ages 1 to 4. At the Y, lessons start year-round, and there are a variety of classes for all ages and skill levels, from Swim Starters, to Swim Basics, to Swim Stroke. Private and semi-private instruction is also available.

Learning to swim can be a huge factor in preventing drowning. It can also build confidence, and foster a life-long love of swimming for a healthy lifestyle. During National Water Safety Month and anytime, contact the aquatics professionals at the Y to learn more. We’re here to help you dive in and swim with confidence.