Jamie Nathan on May 14, 2018
As summer weather approaches, outdoor pools begin preparing to open and families are packing up to head to the beach.
May is National Water Safety Month. This annual awareness campaign, coordinated by multiple organizations, provides critical information to ensure you and your family stay safe when you’re in and near the water, while still having fun.
Water safety is serious business. Last year, between Memorial Day and Labor Day at least 163 children younger than age 15 fatally drowned in swimming pools or spas, according to media reports compiled by the USA Swimming Foundation, a Pool Safely campaign partner. Of the 163 reports, 112 of the victims — nearly 70 percent — were children younger than age five. For people between the ages of 5 and 24, drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death.
Swimming is the most popular summer activity. You can help your family stay safe by enrolling in age-appropriate swim lessons. In addition to lessons, parents are urged to learn the CPR and always have a designated “watcher” when families are near water. This should apply even if the event doesn’t involve getting in the water. Children will be attracted to a pool, ocean, lake, etc. no matter what else is going on around them.
If parents aren’t strong swimmers, it’s never too late to learn. Parents should set a positive example for their children and follow through with learning to swim. It is a great idea to role model what you are trying to learn to your children.
Here some very important Water Safety Tips for you and your family to follow:
- From the beginning, children should be taught to always ask permission before getting in the water.
- Never leave a young child unattended near water.
- Even if there is a lifeguard on the pool deck, a parent should be responsible for their kids.
- Swim only in designated areas supervised by lifeguards.
- Always swim with a buddy.
- U.S. Coast Guard-approved flotation devices should be worn by young children or inexperienced swimmers around water.
- Do not rely on flotation devices alone, parents should be in the water with their child and an arm’s length away at all times.
- Establish water safety rules for your family and enforce them.
- Always wear a life jacket when boating. Drowning is the most common boating fatality.
- Avoid alcohol or drug use. It impairs judgment, balance and coordination; and affects swimming and diving skills.
The pool, beach, lake, etc. are great places for families to bond and create wonderful memories. Paying attention to water safety is not meant to scare or hinder your good time. I believe being more prepared will make you feel empowered around water, therefore making your summer moments enjoyable ones.
The JCC offers swimming lessons year-round. For more information, please contact:
Jamie Nathan is Aquatics Director at the South Hills JCC.