Schenectady fourth graders splash into water safety

SCHENECTADY, N.Y. – As the summer season kicks off, the Capital District YMCA is advising swimmers
and parents to exercise extra precaution when playing poolside.

As temperatures soar, so will the number of people jumping
into water. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drowning
is the second-leading cause of unintentional, injury-related death for children
under the age of 4. An estimated 3,500 people drown each year nationwide, a high
number of them being children.

In their effort to decrease these incidences, the YMCA has
launched Splash, a water safety
initiative that teaches children the importance being safe while having fun
whether they are enjoying time in the pool, heading to a water park or spending
time at the lake.

“We'll have in-water skills, as well as land skills to
really make sure kids are safe this summer,” said Cheryl Hardcastle, Regional
Aquatics Director for the YMCA. “This is our second year doing this and what we
found last year was that of the 200 kids we brought over, the majority of them
would say they knew how to swim, but they didn't once we saw them actually get
in the water.” 

The summer kick-off event, which runs from 9:30 a.m. to noon
Friday, will bring about 65 fourth-graders from Hamilton Hill Elementary School
to the Schenectady High School Pool for a day of water safety demonstrations
and activities. The workshops will run for two weeks, drawing more than 250 children
during that period, in the hope of teaching these safety tips at a young enough
age for them to become habit.

Splash encourages
awareness of not just pool safety, but water safety,” said Erin Breslin, Capital District YMCA spokesperson. “We
know that knowledge encourages a change in behavior and many kids don't have a
knowledge of how to be safe in and around water.”


To test your water safety knowledge, take the Capital District YMCA Water Safety Challenge Quiz here:

Basic Water Safety Tips for Parents:

  • Never leave your child unattended in or around water.
  • When using inflatable or portable pools, remember to empty them immediately after use.
  • Know how to prevent, recognize and respond to emergencies.
  • Learn how to tread water, float and get out of the pool.
  • Learn CPR.
  • When there are several adults, use the “Water Watcher” card, which designates an adult supervisor for a certain amount of time to prevent lapses in supervision.
  • Educate your children about the dangers of drain entanglement and entrapment and teach them to never play or swim near drains or suction outlets.
  • Pay attention to your surroundings. Stop swimming at the very first sign of bad weather. 
  • Make sure your children know the same boating safety rules you do. Make sure they are always wearing a life jacket that fits properly.
  • Infants and young kids are at a higher risk for hypothermia, so if you are taking a baby on a boat, just take a few extra precautions to keep your baby warm. If your children seem cold or are shivering, wrap them tightly in a dry blanket or towel.
  • Teach children that swimming in open water is not the same as swimming in a pool: They need to be aware of uneven surfaces, river currents, ocean undertow and changing weather.

Basic Water Safety Tips to teach Children:

  • Whether you're swimming in a pool or in a lake, always swim with a buddy, never swim alone.
  • Only swim when and where there is a life guard on duty. Never swim alone.
  • For those who haven't learned how to swim, inexperienced swimmers should wear a flotation device.
  • Children who are beginning swimmers should stay within arm's reach of an adult in the water.
  • Know how to prevent, recognize and respond to emergencies.
  • Learn how to tread water, float and get out of the pool.

Did you know?

  • An infant can drown in as little as one inch of water.
  • Home swimming pools are the most common place for a child younger than age 5 to drown.
  • During summer months, drowning incidents can increase up to 89 percent.
  • In 2011, 70 percent of all fatal boating accident victims drowned, and of those who drowned, 84 percent were not wearing a life jacket.

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