Water safety is extremely important in Arizona. Childhood drownings are the leading cause of accidental death of children in Arizona under the age of five. At the YMCA, we strive to provide programs that provide critical safety around water knowledge and teach swimming skills. Our programs range from group and private swim lessons to collaborating with schools to deliver drowning prevention programs.
- According to the CDC, “more children ages 1–4 die from drowning than any other cause of death except birth defects.”
- Drowning is fast and silent. It can happen in as little as 20-60 seconds.
- Children, males, and individuals with increased access to water are most at risk of drowning.
“It is just teaching kids that they need to look both ways before they cross the street or not to put their hand in a hot stove. They need to know lifesaving information. They need to ask permission from a grown-up before they get in the water, and they need to have a grown-up always watching them. Also, they need to know what they do if they fall in a pool, and other essential lifesaving skills.” Shelbi Schmidt, Program Director of Aquatics at our Desert Foothills Family YMCA
For Shelbi Schmidt, our Program Director of Aquatics at our Desert Foothills Family YMCA is essential that everybody should have access to Water Safety Education. For that reason, below, we will find some tips that every child, parent, or caregiver, should know when they are in the water. This will help have a water safety plan in place for your family.
Water Safety Tips
Kids should always ask permission from a grown-up to get in the water. We tell them that their grown-up should always be watching them with their eyes, even if they are a good swimmer. Many backyard and waterfront drownings can be prevented if young swimmers know they have to ask permission and have a grown-up watching them before they can get in any body of water. Practice with your child asking you “Can I please get in the water?” every time you are at a pool or waterfront. This will help grown-ups be aware to enforce water safety rules.
An important rule for water safety for kids is if a friend or sibling falls in the water, kids should not jump in and try to help. Instead, they should “Reach or Throw, Don’t Go”. In other words, they can lay down on the pool deck and reach something out to their friend, or if their friend is too far away, they can throw something that floats out to them.
If kids get tired while they are swimming, they can turn their shoulders and hips and float on their back and take a break before they roll over, and keep swimming. We also teach them to roll over and float if they need to call for help from a lifeguard or a grown-up.
At the YMCA, we recommend that your child’s lifejacket be a U.S. Coast Guard-approved flotation device. You can find the symbol inside the lifejacket. It is a circle with a “UL” inside it and it will say “Marine Listed”. Your child’s lifejacket should fit just right, not too tight but not too loose where it is slipping over your child’s head. You will want to make sure the buckles are fastened, and the straps are pulled tight.
Need more water safety tips? Make sure your family knows all the water safety rules. Visit your nearest YMCA and find more about the programs and activities for this upcoming summer!