With the Fourth of July holiday coming up, it will be a busy time for kids to be swimming. While water activities can be fun, they can also pose danger for children unfamiliar with water safety.
Swimming lessons are a good start for parents wanting to give their kids a background in water safety, according to the U.S. Swim School Association, which offers safety tips.
Based on national statistics, the USSSA said 3,533 people die as a result of drowning each year, and about half of those are children under the age of 4 who drown in backyard pool accidents.
Here are five tips the USSSA recommends that parents share with and teach to their children to make sure they are safe around the water:
1. Flip and float: Parents should make sure the first thing a child should do if he or she falls into the water is to flip onto their back and float until they can be rescued.
2. Find the side: A child should always know where the side of the pool is and how to pull themselves towards it to get out.
3. Do a clothes test: A true test to determine if a child is comfortable in the water and can save themselves in an accident is to have them, supervised of course, jump into a pool fully clothed and make sure they can safely make it out.
4. Throw, don't go: Children should understand that the best way to rescue a friend or sibling who has fallen into a pool is to throw something in that they can grab onto to help pull them to safety, not by jumping in after them.
5. Take a lap: Make sure at the end of the summer your child can swim a full lap of the pool so they can safely make it to any exit around the pool.
Even if your child has mastered and understands these skills, the USSSA still recommends swim lessons and for parents to test their children at the end of the summer season to make sure they are comfortable in their abilities.
The YMCA of Easton, Phillipsburg and Vicinity offers outdoor swim lessons for children ages 3-5 years and 6-12 years throughout the months of June and July. They also offer year-round lessons at their indoor facilities for children and adults.
Young swimmers are broken up into swimming skill level groups to specifically focus on their area of need.
Children can focus on stroke development, floating and breathing while in the water.
Aquatics director at the Easton YMCA, Colleen Laberteaux, emphasizes the importance of organized swim lessons for kids.
"Children learn confidence in the water and are able to be supported in a structured environment by fellow swimmers as well as their instructors," Laberteaux says.
To learn more about USSSA visit ussswimschools.org and to register your child for swimming lessons, visit greatervalleyymca.org.
Rebecca Bullis may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 610-553-3382.