Nat’l Water Safety Month

by Vickie Tsakmakis, Senior Director of Aquatics/Safety

May is National Water Safety Month! We want to highlight the importance of remaining vigilant and safe around the water in the summer months! Drowning can happen nearly anywhere with standing water. But, as a parent or caregiver, you can’t keep your children sidelined. You need to equip them with the tools they need to be confident in and around water! The Y has been a leading provider of swim lessons for over 100 years in our community!

With the summer season right around the corner we would like to share some helpful tips to make sure that you and your families enjoy the summer and practice safe summer fun! No matter what age or swim ability, children need continuous supervision around the water. Young children especially can drown in less than two inches of water so it is very important that caregivers keep a close eye on them while they are swimming!The smallest distraction is all it takes for a child to become part of a horrible statistic, all too many times we hear stories beginning with, “I was only gone for a minute…”or, “I received a quick phone call and a few seconds later…”

Please take water safety seriously this summer and feel free to contact us with any questions you may have or any additional support we may be able to provide you with, mailto:Vickie@ryeymca.orgor call (914)967-6363 ext. 108. Below are some tips that may help you and your families this summer.

-Sign your child up for swim lessons to have a structured lesson where they practice safety skills. Classes are taught here at the Y! (Summer session registration starts June 7) We also teach swimming in our Kinder and Discovery Camps.
-Let kids know that they should contact an adult or a lifeguard if there is an emergency. If you are traveling to a pool or beach, point out the lifeguard to your child before you begin swimming.
– Communication between adults supervising the pool area is key! If you are going to be walking away from the water for a quick second communicate that with other adults so that somebody is supervising the children in the water. Never assume somebody else is actively watching your child.
-Review pool rules with your children and make sure they know what to do in case of an emergency. Teach them to remain calm and YELL for HELP if they find themselves struggling in the water or in case they see somebody else struggling. Go over emergency procedures with the children (while in the car driving to the water, eating a snack, applying sunscreen, right before entering the water, etc.)
-Children should NEVER serve as the lifeguard. If they see somebody needs assistance their job should be to FIND help, not jump in and help the person themselves. Distressed swimmers and active drowning victims can become uncontrollable and violent in the water which can lead to drowning or injuring the person helping them.
-Never assume that a child is safe in the pool, even if they are a great swimmer. All kids should be supervised in the water by a designated caregiver as at any given time something can happen and they may need assistance. Even an experienced swimmer can suffer or worse, drown in the water.
-Practice makes perfect! Set aside 10 minutes every other day to do a mini lesson or just a couple of times during the week. Children like to PLAY in outdoor pools, not practice their freestyle, backstroke, etc. If you stay committed to the learning process throughout the summer they can improve a great deal.
-If at a pool with a diving board make sure to stress to the kids that they can’t jump until the person that jumped before them is at the wall and that there is nobody in their way.
-Practice swimming without goggles for a little bit each day so that they are comfortable swimming without them if there should be an incident when they fall in the water.
-Be at arm’s reach of your child in the water to provide a helping hand as soon as they may need one. Provide your child a life saving floatation device if they are a non swimmer.
-Teach children never to swim alone.
-Learn CPR in case of an emergency, CPR saves lives and the faster you respond to a situation using CPR if needed the more likely a chance of recovery. Only trained CPR professionals should practice this skill. Classes are taught here at the Y! (Click here to register)
-Learn rescue skills by participating in an American Red Cross Lifeguard class! Classes are taught here at the Y! (Click here to register)
-Enroll your child in swim lessons. The Y’s summer session will begin on June 22nd . Swim class is a great way to reinforce pool rules and have children practice their skills in a learning encouraging setting.

-Never allow your child to swim unsupervised.
-Have 911 posted by the phone so kids remember who to call in case of an emergency!
-Having a pool party? Make sure to assign parents to pool duty, have parents in the water with non swimmers, or hire a lifeguard to come and keep a close watch on the kids.
-Stay away from distracting tasks while supervising your child while they swim. Jump in with them and cool off, play games, or teach them some skills.
-Fence off your pool area and make sure that gates are self closing and self latching, out of children’s reach.
-Remove any toys or objects in the pool at the end of your swim activities as children can fall in by trying to grab them.
-Empty all water out of inflatable pools.
-If your child is having a play date make sure to find out whether they will be doing any water activities. If so, be sure to find out what kind of supervision there will be in the water no matter what swim ability your child or their friends may have.
-Be sure to swim test children visiting your pool before you allow them to swim. Swim tests should be done with an adult in the water at arm’s reach to provide assistance if needed.
-Make sure to separate the deeper end with a divider in the water so that all kids and adults no if there is a change in depth.

-Make sure to wear sunscreen. Wear hats, drink plenty of water, and don’t forget to reapply sunscreen regularly!
-Keep cool when you can.
-Practice the buddy system. Nobody is allowed by the water without their buddy.
-Point out the lifeguard so the child knows who to approach in case of an emergency.
-Do not allow children to swim in large waves.
-Teach kids that if they are caught in a rip current or undertow they should swim parallel to the shore or tread water and yell for HELP.
These are just a few tips to help create a safe environment for you and your families this summer. Again, we urge you to remain focused on water safety this summer. Keeping an eye on your children or making sure they are properly supervised is extremely important to providing a safe and fun environment for all.