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Safety Tips for Pool and Beach Swimming from YMCA

During National Water Safety Month–and with pool and beach season rapidly approaching–the YMCA of Long Island, which provides over 22,000 swim lessons annually and offers aquatics programs for all ages, reminds parents and all enjoying the water, these basic pool, beach and swim safety guidelines.

Early Swim Lessons Benefit Child AND Parent:  National research consistently shows that formal swim instruction at an early age significantly reduces the likelihood of a child becoming involved in a serious or fatal water incident. Early age swim instruction also develops a child’s coordination, enhances conditioning and builds confidence. Swim instruction classes that include a parent will also reinforce important water safety techniques for adults supervising their child.

No Substitute for Supervision:  Even children who have had lessons and are considered “good swimmers” should only be in the water under constant adult supervision. At a private pool, this means an undistracted adult; at a public pool, health club, or beach, this means swim only in posted areas that are under the watch of lifeguards.

‘Buddy System’ Applies to All:  All swimmers, even adults who think of themselves experienced swimmers, should always have a partner in the water, or at waterside to supervise. Never swim alone.

Be a Responsible Host: Families hosting pool gatherings should instruct all guests with regard to basic pool rules and identify non-swimmers.

Lifejackets Provide Flotation:  Weak and inexperienced swimmers may consider wearing life vests – those that are United States Coast Guard approved as personal floatation devices (not air-inflated). All occupants on a boat also should wear a USCG- approved lifejacket.

Easily Accessible Lifesaving Equipment:  At a private home pool, place basic lifesaving equipment — such as float rings, poles and rope – in a highly visible location as near the pool as possible, and ensure that adults understand their basic operation. If at a pool without lifeguard supervision, such as hotel, identify the location of lifesaving equipment before swimmers enter the water.

In Emergency, Every Second Counts:  Be sure the adult who is supervising swimmers has a fully charged cordless or cell phone nearby. Be sure to clearly and legibly post the local emergency number by the pool.

Know CPR and Basic First Aid:  Adults should learn how to perform CPR on children and adults, and update those skills regularly, especially if they own a pool or are frequent beachgoers. Homeowners should have a First Aid kit near the pool and learn basic emergency care.

Know the Depths:  When taking children to a new pool, or if entertaining visitors at a home pool for the first time, be sure to familiarize all with depths and restrictions (such as no shallow-water diving). Remind all swimmers to never dive into any pool or area that is not specifically designated for diving.

Stay Aware of Conditions:  Swimming and playing in the water is fun for all ages, however be sure everyone remains watchful for fatigue, sunstroke, and avoid over-exertion that can quickly develop into a water emergency.  At beaches, remind swimmers to keep near the shoreline and not venture outside the lifeguards’ range or vision.

Eye on the Sky:  Everyone should leave the water and go indoors at the first instance of thunder and lightning. Remain indoors and out of the water for at least 30 minutes after the last clap of thunder or until lifeguards give the ‘all clear.’

Fences, Latches and Pool Alarms : In New York State, a minimum of four-foot fencing with self-closing and self-locking gate latches is required by law. Where the house makes up part of the barrier (with a three-sided fence) an additional device, such as a power safety cover, door alarm or door latch is required.  Local municipalities may have even more restrictive standards. Be sure to regularly check the fence and the security and function of gate latches. All above-ground pools must be protected as well. If the wall of the pool is at least 4 feet above grade at all locations, a removable ladder or one that where steps can be locked may be used. Make sure there are no objects (such as a pump, motor or toy) which can enable a child to climb the fence or wall. All toys should be kept away from the pool area when the pool is not in use. Swimming pools installed or constructed after 1996 are required to have an audible alarm capable of detecting entry into the water.

With over 60,000 members, the YMCA of Long Island is the leading local provider of swim lessons and lifeguard instruction, is committed on a daily basis to the safety of all Long Islanders enjoying the water. To learn more about our swim instruction programs, contact the YMCA of Long Island at (516) 674-8091.

Justin Scott is Aquatic Program Director at the YMCA of Long Island Patchogue Family YMCA and Brookhaven Roe Y Center.

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