YMCA of Greater Oklahoma City

As temperatures rise, it’s only natural that kids want to cool off. Whether that happens in home pools, ponds, lakes, rivers, streams or oceans, that means the risk of drowning is as prevalent as ever. May is National Water Safety Month, and now is the perfect time for parents and caregivers to reinforce the importance of equipping their kids with essential water safety skills.  

As “America’s Swim Instructor,” we typically teach hundreds of children invaluable water safety and swimming skills each year.  With many pools closed last summer due to COVID-19, we want to ensure parents, caregivers and children make water safety a top priority as they head back into the water this year.   

Here are our top five tips to ensure a safe and enjoyable swimming experience for all:

  1. Never swim alone or without a water watcherWhen 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 within arm’s reach at all times. 
  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 every time they take a dip in a pool or other body of water.
  5. Don’t jump into deep water to save a friend who is struggling. 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 and easily pull the rescuer underwater. Our 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. 

Keep these tips at top of mind and you’ll be on your way to a fun and safe summer. To learn more about our aquatics programs such as Safety Around Water and Y Swim Lessons, visit our programs page. 

Written by Kelsey Pagonis, kpagonis@ymcaokc.org

All YMCA of Greater Oklahoma City locations will be closed on Thursday, July 4 in observance of Independence Day. 24/7 access will continue to be available at locations where the service is offered. Work out with us anytime with YMCA360.