The YMCA of Rock River Valley wants to ensure that water safety doesn’t get lost in our eagerness to return to a “normal” summer.
As temperatures rise, kids want to cool off, whether that is in home pools, ponds, lakes, rivers, streams, or oceans. And that means the risk of drowning is as prevalent as ever. For National Water Safety Month this May, the Y is encouraging parents and caregivers to reinforce the importance of water safety skills with the whole family.
“As ‘America’s Swim Instructor,’ the YMCA of Rock River Valley typically teaches more than 2,500 children invaluable water safety and swimming skills each year. Last year, though due to COVID-19 precautions, we saw that number dip to around 700 and want to remind parents and caregivers that it’s more important than ever to keep water safety top of mind as families start to return to their usual summer routines,” said Jamie Lowery, Senior Program Director of Aquatics, YMCA of Rock River Valley.
As part of National Water Safety Month, the Y is encouraging parents to play an active role in promoting water safety and providing five tips to ensure a safe and enjoyable swimming experience for all.
1. Never swim alone or without a water watcher. When children are swimming, make sure they are actively supervised at all times. Teach your children that they should only swim in locations where a lifeguard is on duty, or where a responsible adult agrees to watch the children in the water without distractions.
2. Supervise your children whenever they’re in or near water. Whether it’s bath time or taking a dip in a pool or lake, make sure your children are always within arm’s reach.
3. Don’t engage in breath holding activities. Children should not 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.
5. Don’t jump in the water to save a friend who is struggling in deep water. If a child finds their friend in deep water unexpectedly, their natural reaction may be to jump in the water to try to save them. Even if a child is a great swimmer, a panicked person will overpower them, pulling the rescuer underwater. The Y’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.
The Y will be offering summer swim lessons at five locations. Indoor lessons will continue at our YMCA facilities – Northeast Family YMCA and SwedishAmerican Riverfront YMCA. The Y will also provide outdoor lessons at the Rockford Park District pools. There will be four 2-week sessions meeting Monday through Thursday, as well as one 8-week session meeting on Saturday mornings. The lessons at Alpine Pool and Sand Park Pool are fee-based, but financial assistance is available. The lessons at Harkins Aquatic Center are free and offered daily Monday through Thursday.