Local YMCA offers water safety tips

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The YMCA of the Coosa Valley wants to ensure that water safety does not get lost in area residents’ excitement and eagerness to jump into summer. As temperatures rise, kids want to cool off, whether in home pools, ponds, lakes, rivers, streams or oceans, which means the risk of drowning is as prevalent as ever.

As we close our National Water Safety Month for May, the YMCA of the Coosa Valley encourages parents and caregivers to reinforce the importance of water safety skills with the whole family.

“The YMCA of the Coosa Valley is currently booking opportunities to serve the community with our Safety Around Water program,” said YMCA of the Coosa Valley CEO Heidi Darbo. “This summer, we will be partnering with community pools and civic organizations to teach children valuable water safety and swimming skills. Now more than ever, it’s important to remind parents and caregivers that water safety needs to be top-of-mind as families return to their favorite summertime activities. The best part is that we will bring our Y on the Fly Van to your location, and a pool is not needed.”

On Tuesday June 4, the Y on the Fly Van will visit the City Hokes Bluff Public Library. The 10 a.m. session will be held indoors. The 5:30 p.m. evening session will be held outdoors and will include fun family games and a visit to the Hokes Bluff Fire Hall. Both sessions will teach skills that reduce the risk of drowning, including pool rules, boating and CPR safety, and what to do if you or a friend accidently falls in the water. Children will receive a coloring book and family members are encouraged to sign a pledge to stay safe this summer.

As part of National Water Safety Month, the YMCA of the Coosa Valley is encouraging parents to play an active role in promoting water safety while providing five tips to ensure a safe and enjoyable swimming experience for all.

* Make sure children know to always ask permission before going in or near the water. Teaching your children to be water-smart is the first step in water safety. Be sure they understand the importance of asking permission before going in or near the water.

* Never swim alone or without a water watcher. When 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.

* Supervise your children whenever they are in or near water. Whether it’s bath time or taking a dip in a pool or waterfront, make sure your children are within arm’s reach at all times.

* Don’t engage in breath-holding activities. Both adults and children should not hold their breath for a prolonged amount of time while swimming, as this can be dangerous.

* Wear a life jacket. Inexperienced or non-swimmers should wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket. Always wear them on a boat.

* Do not jump in the water to save a friend who is struggling in deep water. If an adult or child finds his or her friend in deep water unexpectedly, the natural reaction would be to jump in the water to try to save them. Even if he or she is a great swimmer, a panicked person will overpower them, pulling the rescuer underwater. The YMCA’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, both adults and children can help their friend without compromising their own safety.

Thanks are extended to United Way of Etowah County, Gadsden City Schools Alabama 21st CCLC and Gadsden Early Learning Initiative at the University of Alabama for their ongoing support of programs provided by the YMCA. To learn more about the YMCA of the Coosa Valley’s Safety Around Water programs offerings, email ceoymcacoosavalley@gmail.com. Sponsorship opportunities are available.

Driven by its founding mission, the YMCA has served as a leading nonprofit committed to strengthening community for more than 175 years. The Y empowers everyone, no matter who they are or where they are from, by ensuring access to resources, relationships and opportunities for all to learn, grow and thrive. By creating opportunities to bring together people from different backgrounds, perspectives and generations, the Y’s goal is to improve overall health and well-being, ignite youth empowerment and demonstrate the importance of connections in and across 10,000 communities nationwide. Learn more at ymca.org.

Submitted by Heidi Darbo

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