The world is 71% water, and children are 100% curious. During National Water Safety Month this May, the Fanwood-Scotch Plains YMCA (FSPY) is urging parents and caregivers to teach children how to be safe in and around water.

Children ages 1 to 4 have the highest drowning rates, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In 2014, among children 1 to 4 years old who died from an unintentional injury, one-third died from drowning, and most occur in home swimming pools. But research shows that participation in formal swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning among young children.

FSPY offers swim lessons for all ages and abilities. The Y, known as “America’s Swim Instructor,” focuses on three general categories for its lessons: Swim Starters develops water enrichment and aquatic readiness in children ages six months to three years; Swim Basics develops personal water safety and basic swimming skills in students of all ages, and Swim Strokes introduces and refines stroke technique in older students (school age, teens and adults).

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The Fanwood-Scotch Plains YMCA also offers these tips to help you and your loved ones stay safe around water as we enter the summer swimming season:

  • Never Swim Alone. You should only swim when there’s a lifeguard on duty and both adults and children should consider bringing a buddy in the water. Not only is it more fun to swim with a friend, but there’s also someone who can call for help if something goes wrong.
  • Make sure everyone in your family knows how to swim. The Y offers classes for all skill levels and for all ages.
  • Wear a US Coast Guard-approved life jacket. This is especially important for children and inexperienced swimmers. Know your and your loved ones swimming abilities and take steps to keep everyone safe.
  • Know your body of water. Swimming in the ocean, a pool or a lake? Is the water calm or is there a current? Do your research and see if the conditions are right for you.
  • Always swim when there’s a lifeguard on duty. Lifeguards are trained to save lives, respond quickly to an emergency and know when the water is safe for swimming.
  • Children should always be supervised when in the water, regardless of their age. Young children should be within arm’s reach of an adult at all times and older children should be closely watched.
  • Breath-holding games of any kind should be discouraged when in the water. Playing these games runs the risk of children or adults passing out underwater and can lead to accidental drowning.
  • Always enter the water feet first. Diving head first into shallow water can lead to serious injuries. Teach children the appropriate way to enter a pool or other body of water.
  • Learn CPR. This life-saving technique can be critical if an accident occurs, especially since parents and bystanders are usually the first on scene. The Y offers CPR training to the community.
  • Start teaching children how to swim as early as possible. The Y’s swim lesson program gets children as young as 6 months comfortable around water and familiarizes them with safety techniques.

For more information on FSPY’s swim lesson program, visit fspymca.org or call 908-889-8880.

The Fanwood-Scotch Plains YMCA is dedicated to improving the quality of life of the individuals, families and communities it serves through programs and services that build wholeness of spirit, mind and body. The YMCA is a not-for-profit organization founded on Christian principles, serving people of all ages, races, faith, cultures and socio-economic conditions. For information on membership or programs, or to request a schedule of classes, please call the Fanwood-Scotch Plains YMCA at (908) 889-8880 or visit https://fspymca.org. Financial assistance is available for those who qualify.