RED BANK, NJ – It's now the busy season at beaches, pools, and lakes, and the YMCA of Greater Monmouth County is reminding parents, caregivers, and everyone in our community to make water safety a priority. 

While the COVID-19 shutdown forced the cancellation of the Y's water safety programs, including swim lessons for youth, the organization is strongly recommending teaching children to be safe around water to prevent accidents, such as the tragic drownings last week in a backyard pool in East Brunswick.

Drownings are a leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 14, and three children die every day in the United States as a result of drowning, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Drowning also kills more children ages 1-4 than anything else except birth defects.

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"Keeping children safe in and around water is one of our greatest priorities," according to Y President and CEO Laurie Goganzer. "The YMCA is the nation's leader in swim instruction, teaching more than one million children water safety and swimming skills every year, but unfortunately here in New Jersey the COVID-19 crisis halted our swimming programs in March."

"That's why we are now reaching out to the community, reminding parents and caregivers to watch their children around water and regularly talk to their children about water safety. Teaching children how to swim and to be safe around water reduces the risk of drowning."

The YMCA has historically designated the month of May as "Water Safety Month," leading up to a nationwide community water safety program in June. In Red Bank, the Y also planned to provide free swim lessons for all third graders in Red Bank public schools, a program sponsored by the Red Bank Classic.

In place of the community water safety programs, the Y will be sharing virtual water safety tips and resources with the community throughout the summer at https://ymcanj.org/safety-around-water.

With beaches and public outdoor pools open again in New Jersey, the YMCA offers these vital water safety tips:

  • Buddy Up- Never allow children to swim alone. Teach them to use the buddy system even when a public pool, lake or beach has a lifeguard on duty.
  • Swim with Lifeguards on Duty- Only allow your children to swim in designated areas where a lifeguard is on duty.
  • Adult Supervision- Adults should constantly and actively watch children in and around water even when lifeguards are present. Be sure your children are always within arm’s reach of you.
  • Wear a Life Jacket- Inexperienced and non-swimmers should wear a Coast Guard approved life jacket when in and around water.
  • No Breath Holding - Children shouldn't hold their breath for a prolonged amount of time while swimming. This can cause drowning and has several other severe side effects.
  • Learn to Swim- Enroll your children in water safety or swim lessons. Just like teaching your children to look both ways before crossing the street, having them participate in formal water safety lessons teaches them an important life skill. 

The Centers for Disease Control offers these additional tips:

  • Learn Lifesaving Skills- Everyone should know the basics of swimming (floating, moving through the water) and CPR.
  • Fence it Off- Install fencing around pools to keep children away when they aren't supposed to be swimming.

For more information on water safety and YMCA membership, connect with the Y at www.ymcanj.org or on social media by following @ymcaGMC.

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