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Keep it Safe and Fun on the Water this Fourth of July

YMCA of Greater Kansas City
June 26, 2018
Photo of a lifeguard helping a young boy put on a life jacket

Keeping in the pool or lake is what summer's all about for many kids. But with children drowning on the rise, how do you get the family to slow down and make sure kids stay safe and happy in the water this Fourth of July holiday and beyond? 

The experts at the YMCA of Greater Kansas City say it just takes a few simple steps to save lives.

1. Be a Water Watcher. The number one rule around water: Parents and caregivers need to watch their kids. 

The Y suggests adults take turns as the designated "Water Watcher," whose only task is to watch kids in the water - without distraction. That means skipping the drinks, putting down the cellphone, and saving your books and magazines to read later, so you can truly focus on keeping track of the kids in the water. 

For the youngest swimmers, a parent or trusted adult needs to be in the water within an arm’s reach of the child.

2. Wear life jackets. Life jackets are a potentially life-saving option in the water and on boats when used properly. But floating rafts and water wings are not life-saving devices and can offer a false sense of security. Make sure to use a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket or personal floatation device. Before you purchase one, look for the details on the tag to make sure it’s the right size based on body weight and appropriate for your water activity.

3. Take swim lessons. The Y recommends all kids learn how to swim from certified swim instructors, and practice their new skills regularly. Like learning to ride a bike or play a musical instrument, learning to swim takes repetition. 

There’s still time to enroll in swim lessons this summer at any of the 13 Greater Kansas City Y locations. And with our indoor pools, your kids can continue to take lessons and practice year-round. Find out which swim lesson stage is the best fit for your child by completing the free online swim lesson assessment and selector.

4. Throw, don’t go, in an emergency. Make sure the kids and adults remember we can help someone who is struggling in the water without getting wet. Reach out to someone with a pool noodle, another flotation device or a towel that they can grab, and pull them to safety. Don’t go in the water--it could cause you to get in trouble, too.

5. Know the signs of drowning. Drowning is often called a silent disease. It's not like what has been depicted on TV and in the movies, where people start flailing and waving their arms. In reality, a child’s legs might be kicking, but their head falls back, slides to the waterline and then they sink under the water. The drowning can take only a few seconds.