4 Tips to Keep Your Loved Ones Safe Around Water

Last updated: June 6, 2023, at 8:38 a.m. PT

Originally published: April 29, 2020, at 8:47 a.m. PT

Tips for Keeping Loved Ones Safe Around Water

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC):

  • Drowning is one of the leading causes of unintentional death from youth ages 1-14. 
  • For every fatal drowning, another five children are treated in the emergency department for nonfatal drowning incidents. 
  • 80% of drowning victims are male.
  • African Americans have a higher rate of drowning than their Caucasian counterparts.

At the YMCA of Greater Seattle (the Y) we are all about families and building strong communities. We want to make a long-lasting impact in the communities we serve. One of our core areas of focus is aquatic safety and drowning prevention. Together, we can help prevent fatal and nonfatal accidents in and around water by establishing safe aquatic behaviors at a young age and staying educated about water safety. Here are 4 tips for keeping you and your family safe year-round: 

1. Enroll your child in swim lessons.
According to the CDC, formal swim lessons can help reduce drowning, especially for children ages 1-4. At the Y, we teach safe water habits and drowning prevention strategies first, followed by stroke development. We use a research-based approach that capitalizes on a child’s natural swimming habits. We have an increased focus on safe submersion, teaching sequences of jump, push, turn, and grab, as well as swim-float-swim to aid in self-rescue if your child is in danger.

2. Teach children to ask permission to enter the water. 
We know that kids love the water and are naturally drawn to it. We recommend teaching children to always ask permission before they get in the water. This keeps you alert when children are in the water, so you’re more likely to notice if danger arises. This also allows you to focus your attention on swimmers and ensure they’re wearing a properly fitted, Coast Guard-approved floatation device.

3. Supervise children when they’re in the water. 
Any time a child is in or around the water, there must be a dedicated adult who is actively supervising the child. A fun term the Y uses for this role is “Water Watcher.” The Water Watcher can either be in the water and actively engaging with the child, or sitting at the water’s edge. Most importantly, the Water Watcher needs to be free of distraction from conversation, electronic devices, books, or other tasks. 

4. Learn basic water rescue skills. 
By learning basic water rescue skills, you’ll be better equipped to aid anyone who is in trouble in the water. A person who is in trouble in the water is only thinking of their safety and often don’t realize that you are there to help them. We suggest learning how to do simple reaching and extension assists. For example, you can lay on the edge of the water using your body as an anchor. You can extend an arm, leg, towel, shirt, tree limb, oar/paddle, etc. for them to grab on to. You can also use something that floats to throw to them. This could be a pool noodle, pool float, ring buoy, beverage cooler, a sealed jug of water, or even a life jacket. You should ensure that you always have the proper rescue equipment near you. 

By following a few, simple rules, we can reduce the number of fatal and nonfatal accidents in and around water. Click here to learn more about safety around water at the Y. 

Category: Water Safety