BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – School is out, summer is here, and as the weather heats up more kids will be taking a dip in the pool. Swimming experts want to ensure every child is safe.
Louisiana data shows a 60 percent increase in the number of infant and child drownings since 2020.
YMCA officials said drowning is the second leading cause of death for children under the age of 14 in Louisiana.
Christian Engle, President and CEO of the YMCA, said about 3,000 to 4,000 kids will swim in one of their pools this summer. Officials said water education is crucial. One main thing to remember is to always wear a life jacket.
“With all the bodies of water that we have around the state, it is extremely important children know not only have water safety skills, preferably even be able to swim, but more importantly, just know how to be safe around the water,” said Engle.
“I know how to swim when I’m on a boat. I should still wear a life jacket. Kids should always have something on. You want to make sure it’s Coast Guard-approved,” said Engle.
Safety officials recommend parents keep an eye on their kids at all times. They said having a lifeguard can prevent accidents from happening.
“We’ve been able to keep all of our lifeguards on. We do certify our own staff. So, we have Red Cross certification along with the YMCA certification, and they actually get both,” said Engle.
If you’re ever in an emergency situation and someone around you is drowning, swimming safety officials suggest not to go in after them. Instead, throw or hand them an object to hold on to.
Officials also suggest remembering these words: Reach, throw, don’t go.
“If you have a friend who is in the water and they are panicking, do not go in the water after your friend,” said Jess Stidham, Swim Lessons Coordinator, and Swim Team Coach.
“One of the biggest risks for drowning is going in after somebody to save them when you are not a good swimmer or a lifeguard. And how do you enter the water? How do you approach a drowning victim? Because we have to keep them safe as well, because otherwise, they’re both going to go down,” said Engle.
Stidham said in an emergency situation, remember to jump, push, turn, and grab, which can save your life.
“If you’re ever in the water, you need to jump to a place where it is shallow enough and you can push up off of the bottom of the pool, turn and then grab for the side. And so that’s a life-saving skill. It could be seen as a fun summer job. And it is. But we’re also very serious about safety.” said Stidham.
Parents who are hesitant to expose their kids to water are encouraged to take swim lessons too! If you’re still unsure, Engle has a message!
“Get over it. Your child needs to have it. And I think the beauty of at least way the YMCA Adult Swim lessons is we start off with a water introduction. Right? It’s learning about how to not only enter the water but how not to be scared of the water,” said Engle.
Engle said the YMCA is working on a program with East Baton Rouge schools to ensure every second grader in the area knows how to swim.
Visit the YMCA’s website to learn more about summer programs and swim lessons.