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Community Message: Water Safety

The start of summer means more time outdoors by the pool. It also means an increased risk of accidental drowning. Over the weekend, two water tragedies occurred at two separate lakes in our county. I am deeply saddened by the news of these two young children, and additional children that remain in critical condition. My condolences go out to their families and everyone involved. As a father, I can’t imagine the pain they are experiencing after such a tragic loss.

Drowning is fast and silent – it can happen in just 20 seconds. Children will rarely scream, splash, or call out for help. More children ages 1–4 die from drowning than any other cause of death except birth defects. For children ages 1–14, drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury death after motor vehicle crashes.

Before jumping in the water this summer, please remember these few tips to ensure it is a safe, enjoyable experience:
Never swim alone. Teach your children that they should only swim in locations where a lifeguard is on duty or an adult is watching.
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, non-swimmers and kids 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 these techniques, children can help their friend without compromising their own safety.

Lastly, the Y offers swim lessons for all, regardless of age, income or background. Keeping children safe around water is absolutely critical and one of the most important life skills we as parents can give our children. To learn more about the YMCA of Snohomish County swim programs, visit ymca-snoco.org/swim

In community,

Peyton Tune
President & CEO
YMCA of Snohomish County