May is Water Safety Month

Tips from the Y

As the season turns from spring to summer, the Marshalltown YMCA-YWCA encourages children and parents in Central Iowa to explore the many benefits of swimming, while also keeping safety top of mind.

“Swimming is not only a fun, healthy activity, but an important life skill for all children,” said Shelley Lechnir, Aquatic Director for the Marshalltown YMCA-YWCA.  “Learning basic water safety skills is a great introduction to the world of swimming that often continues with swim lessons and competitive swim programs, and can even lead to a career.”

As part of National Water Safety Month in May, the Y encourages parents to take an active role in fostering a relationship between their children and swimming—beginning with water safety. Following are safety tips to practice when in and around the water:

Before letting your children hit the water this summer, remember these few tips to ensure it’s an enjoyable and safe experience.

  • Never swim alone. Teach your children that they should only swim in locations where a lifeguard is on duty.
  • Supervise your children whenever they’re in water. Whether it’s bath time or taking a dip in a pool or lake, 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, as this can cause drowning and has several other severe physical side-effects.
  • Wear a Life Jacket: Inexperienced or non-swimmers should wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket. 
  • 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 them underwater with them. 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.
  • Enroll your children in water safety or swim 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 Swim Lessons teaches children fundamental water safety skills and what to do if they find themselves in water unexpectedly.

Learning how to swim also has multiple benefits beyond the ability to enjoy water safely. It helps children strive for physical achievement, promotes healthy living and builds their confidence. To find out how to enroll your child in the Y’s Swim Lessons program, click this link or call 641-752-8658.