Sunday, February 25, 2018

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7 Steps to Water Safety Success

Written by  Daniel Smith, Aquatics Director, Salem Family YMCA

Swimming and other water sports are favorite summer past times no matter your age. But remember these types of fun-in-the-sun activities should always start with safety first. OurHealth is pleased to partner with the Salem Family YMCA to bring seven helpful tips and resources developed with yours and your loved ones health in mind. 

  1. Never Swim Alone. Always emphasize to children that they should only swim in locations where a lifeguard is on duty. In fact, this rule is a good one for adults to follow, as well.
  2. Supervise your Children Whenever They’re in Any Type of Water. Whether it’s bath time or taking a dip in a pool, lake or the river, make sure children are within arm’s reach of you at all times. Most drownings occur when parents or guardians least expect – in less than two – three feet of water. Children can easily slip under giving them little or no time to cry out for help.
  3. Don’t Engage in Breath Holding Activities. Children shouldn’t hold their breath for a prolonged amount of time while swimming, as this can cause drowning and has several other severe physical side-effects.
  4. Wear a Life Jacket. Inexperienced or non-swimmers should wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket, or a personal flotation device (PFD). For more information about United States Coast Guard-approved PFDs, including choosing the right types to select based on the water environment, how to select the correct size, how to properly wear and care recommendations, visit:
  5. Lead by Example. Be the role model of water safety for your children. Wear your own PFD while on any type of motorized or non-motorized watercraft. Also, do not engage in alcohol or drug use while operating any type of water craft or while swimming.
  6. Don’t Jump In to Save a Friend Struggling in Deep Water. If children find their friend in deep water unexpectedly, the natural reaction may be to jump in the water to try to save him or her. Even if a child is a great swimmer, a panicked person will overpower them, pulling them underwater with them. YMCA’s Safety Around Water program teaches the “reach, throw, don’t go” concept of using a long object to reach for them and pull them to safety. By using this technique, children can help their friend without compromising their own safety.
  7. Enroll your Children in Water Safety or Swim Lessons. Just like teaching your children to look both ways before they cross the street, having them participate in formal water safety lessons teaches them an important life skill that may one day save their life.

For more information about the YMCA’s Safety Around Water and swim lessons programs, visit