Cool off with caution this summer

Released by the YMCA of Burlington & Camden Counties

Swimming is among the most enjoyable and beneficial physical activities in a child’s life, but can also be a very dangerous one. As the start of the summer is around the corner, it is important to know and follow rules to ensure water safety.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, about 10 people die from unintentional drowning each day. Of these, two will be children aged 14 or younger. Additionally, drowning is the sixth leading cause of unintentional injury death for people of all ages, and is the second leading cause of death for children under the age of 14.

For every child who dies from drowning, another four received emergency department care for nonfatal submission injuries. Nonfatal drowning can cause brain damage that may result in long-term disabilities including memory problems, learning disabilities, and permanent loss of basic functions.

“80 percent of the drowning deaths occur between May and Sept. As the start of the summer is here and families are preparing for trips to the pool and beach vacations, the Y urges swim safety for children and encourages families to be vigilant as they head toward the water,” said Linda Davis, aquatics director for the YMCA of Burlington and Camden Counties.

In recognition of the summer season and June being National Safety Month, the Y offers important safety tips for all ages:

Designate a “water-watcher” during swim time. Never leave a child alone near a pool, spa, bathtub, toilet, bucket or any standing water in which a child’s nose or mouth may be submerged, even if a lifeguard is on duty. It only takes one inch of water to cover a child’s mouth and nose to potentially cause drowning. In the time it takes to cross a room or pool deck for a towel, a child can slip silently under the surface of the water, even while wearing a floating device.

Be prepared in case of emergency. It’s important to take the time to learn life-saving skills like CPR, and to have a phone handy in the pool area. The Y offers First Aid, CPR and AED training, as well as Lifeguard certification courses.

Educate others about pool safety. Adults present when a child drowns are often distracted in some way. Talk to babysitters and other caregivers about appropriate pool behavior. If you own a pool, make sure neighbors, relatives and friends know and abide by the rules.

Don’t play games underwater. While they seem fun at first, activities that require you to hold your breath can result in loss of consciousness.

Maintain appropriate lifesaving equipment. Keep a life preserver and rope in the pool area, hanging from the fence so they are accessible but not in the way.

Safeguard pool area for children. Keep pool gates locked and all furniture away from fence to ensure a child can’t climb over. Make sure to use gates that are self-closing and self-latching. When inside the pool area, keep toys at a safe distance from the edge of the pool.

Avoid entrapment. Suction from a pool’s drain is so powerful it can trap an adult underwater. Make sure drains are in working order and replace any missing or broken drain covers.

Never dive into above ground pools. They are too shallow, as are most in-ground pools as well. Always be aware of the depth before jumping in.

Learn to swim. The Y, America’s Favorite Swim Instructor, has been teaching children, as early as six months old, and adults to swim for more than 100 years. The Y’s pools are equipped for people with special needs and include chair lifts to assist swimmers into and out of the water.

Learning to swim at the YMCA is more than just stroke development, techniques and skills. Classes are divided into skill levels and trained instructors emphasize personal safety, swimming skills, endurance and social skills while guiding students with praise and encouragement. Fun with a splash of confidence!

“It is our responsibility as parents and guardians to ensure the safety of our children and that includes diligence in and around water. We need to ensure that we are water smart,” said Davis. “Water smart parents and kids learn to swim, they respect and enjoy the water and they are proactive with water safety. Be safe and have fun this summer.”

The summer session runs June 25 through August 31 with three convenient summer schedules: four-week classes, five-week classes and nine-week classes. Registration for swim lessons begins June 11 for full facility members and June 18 for program members.

Swimming is a life skill that all children should have the chance to learn. Safe swimming saves lives. The YMCA strives to turn no one away for the inability to pay. Financial assistance is available to families that substantiate a need, based on available resources. The YMCA is committed to providing programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for everyone.

For more information on Y Swim Lessons and other YMCA Classic Summer Fun programs, please call the Mt. Laurel Y at (856) 234–6200 or visit www.ymca-bc.org.