GLENVILLE Pools can provide a cool relief to scorching summer heat, but they can also prove to be a hazard for young, inexperienced swimmers.
The Capital District YMCA on Friday, June 15, kicked off its water safety initiative, Splash, at its Glenville branch with 62 students from Galway Elementary. The program aims to teach children swimming skills and basic water safety through activities and instruction.
“Our purpose is to keep kids safe in and around the water, especially in these summer months,” said Cheryl Hardcastle, regional aquatics director for the YMCA. “Splash is really a big educational piece to allow people to be aware that most drownings happen in the summertime.”
There are a variety of precautions kids learn for swimming in a backyard pool or other body of water, and the Splash curriculum also covers boat safety. They learn how to use a life jacket and to never swim alone or without adult supervision.
Using a buddy system for kids also helps ensure young swimmers don’t venture off alone or go unaccounted for. Hardcastle said the program also stresses how children should react if a friend falls into a pool or is in danger of drowning.
“If kids are by a swimming pool and their friend falls in, their first reaction is ‘I can save them,’” she said.
Jumping in the pool shouldn’t be the first response, she said, because there are safer ways to try and save a friend, such as throwing a flotation device. Since an adult should be nearby, calling to them for help is another option.
Hardcastle said it is “scary” how often a drowning occurs when basic swimming skills or precautions could avoid dreadful incidents.
Drowning is the leading cause of injury-related death for children from 1 to 4 years old, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and it is the fifth leading cause of unintentional injury death for people of all ages.