Tell us a little bit about your organization and how long have you been a Pool Safely campaign partner?
The YMCA is “America’s Swim Instructor” and the most accessible community resource to prevent drowning and encourage a lifelong enjoyment of swimming. Each year, the Y teaches more than a million children invaluable water safety and swimming skills. Additionally, the Y introduced the country to the concept of group swim lessons more than 100 years ago (1909).
We’ve been a Pool Safely campaign partner since the program’s inception in 2010.
What is the most useful/your favorite Pool Safely resource?
The Y’s favorite Pool Safely resource are the various tools and materials available through poolsafely.gov. Being a national membership organization with 2,700 widely accessible locations, and more than 2,200 pools, local Ys need content and materials to educate members and staff and Pool Safely fits in nicely with national and local Y efforts.
What top 3 water safety steps or messages do you think are the most important for keeping kids safer in and around the water?
- Never swim alone and supervise your children whenever they’re in water. Teach your children that they should only swim in locations where a lifeguard is on duty. Also, whether it is bath time or they are taking a dip in a pool or beach, make sure your children are within arm’s reach of you at all time.
- Don’t engage in breath-holding activities. Children shouldn’t hold their breath for a prolonged amount of time while swimming. Breath-holding contests, underwater swimming challenges, and hyperventilating before swimming and extended breath-holding are potentially deadly activities, even when performed or preparing for competitive or military training.
- Enroll your children in water safety 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. The Y’s Safety Around Water program teaches children fundamental water safety skills and what to do if they find themselves in water unexpectedly.
How has your organization made a difference among consumers when it comes to drowning prevention?
In addition to the one million children who learn water safety and swim lessons each year, the Y is awarding more than 18,000 scholarships for free water safety lessons to children from underserved communities as a part of our Safety Around Water program.
According to a national research study conducted by the USA Swimming Foundation and the University of Memphis, 70 percent of African American and 60 percent of Hispanic children cannot swim compared to 40 percent of Caucasian children. The Y’s Safety Around Water program teaches children of all ages and from all backgrounds that water should be fun, not feared, as long as you know how to stay safe in and around water. Additionally, Safety Around Water educates parents about the importance of water safety lessons for their children.
Why do you think it is beneficial to partner with CPSC and the Pool Safely campaign?
Two children die every day because of drowning, and it is the leading cause of death for children one to four years old and is the second leading cause of death for children from five to 14 years old. No organization can lower these statistics alone, and by partnering with the CPSC and the Pool Safely campaign, we can reach even more children and families and hopefully save more lives.