Health & Wellness

More Than Half of All Children and Teens Can’t Swim or Perform Basic Swim Safety Skills: Study

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A Red Cross survey found that 61 percent of parents report that their child cannot demonstrate all five basic skills that could save their lives in the water.  Credits: www.redcross.org
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PRINCETON, NJ, May 20, 2015 – The American Red Cross North Jersey Region is encouraging families to make water safety a priority this summer.
 
“As we all gear up for trips to the pool, beach, rivers and lakes this summer, we're asking that families here in New Jersey make water safety a priority,” said Mathieu Nelessen, regional CEO, American Red Cross North Jersey. “Families need to make sure that both adults and children have the knowledge and skills they need to be safe in and around the water.”
 
A national survey conducted for the Red Cross shows that most children and teens cannot perform basic swimming safety skills. These critical water safety skills, also known as “water competency,” are the ability to, in this order: step or jump into the water over your head; return to the surface and float or tread water for one minute; turn around in a full circle and find an exit; swim 25 yards to the exit; and exit from the water. If in a pool, be able to exit without using the ladder.
 
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The survey found that nearly all parents (94 percent) expect that their children will engage in some sort of water activity this summer. However, nearly two-thirds (61 percent) of these parents report that their child cannot demonstrate all five basic skills that could save their lives in the water. Of these, 65 percent are parents of children (ages 4-12) and 51 percent are parents of teens (ages 13-17).
 
Tips to Keep You and Your Family Safe Around the Water:
 
1.     Ensure everyone in your family knows how to swim and only swim in designated areas supervised by lifeguards.

2.     Always swim with a buddy; do not allow anyone to swim alone.
3.     Have young children or inexperienced swimmers wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets around water, but do not rely on life jackets alone.
4.     Provide close and constant attention to children and inexperienced swimmers you are supervising in or near the water. Avoid distractions while supervising.
5.     For a backyard pool, have appropriate equipment, such as reaching or throwing equipment, a cell phone, life jackets and a first aid kit.
6.     Secure the backyard pool with appropriate barriers including four-sided fencing.
7.     Never leave a young child unattended near water, and do not trust a child’s life to another child. Teach children to always ask permission to go near water. If a child is missing, check the water first.
8.     If someone plans to swim in the ocean, they should always check weather conditions before going in the water.
9.     Be aware of the danger of rip currents. If caught in one, swim parallel to the shore until out of the current. When free, turn and swim toward shore. If unable to swim to the shore, call out for help, float or tread water until free of the rip current and then head toward shore.
10.  If you go boating, wear a life jacket! Most boating fatalities occur from drowning.


 
“Summer is the perfect time to enroll children in swim lessons, the first step in practicing water safety,” Nelessen said. “The Red Cross created the first national water safety program in the U.S. – and today it’s still the gold standard, training more than two million people annually.”
 
Red Cross swimming lessons help people develop skills and water safety behaviors that help people be more comfortable and safe when they are in, on and around the water. To find classes for your family, contact your local aquatic facility and ask for American Red Cross swimming and water safety programs, or visit www.redcross.org/TakeAClass.

On June 2, join the American Red Cross for our inaugural Giving Day, a 24-hour fundraising campaign to support those in need in communities across the country. 

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