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YMCA teaches lifesaving water safety skills

By Crystal Burns

Splashing in the pool in summer is a great way to beat the heat, but it can also be dangerous for young swimmers.

Drowning is the leading cause of death for children ages one to four and is the third leading cause of unintentional injury-related death for children ages five to 19. Statistics show that 60% of youth drowning occurs within 10 feet of safety, while 88% of children who drown are under adult supervision.

To combat those jarring numbers, the Northwest Gibson County YMCA teaches a Safety Around Water program, which combines classroom elements with practical activities in the YMCA pool.

“Drowning is preventable,” said Melissa White, center director of the Northwest Gibson County YMCA, which is part of the YMCA of Memphis and the Mid-South. “We are committed to ensuring that all of our summer camp participants are able to attend the Safety Around Water program. This program not only saves lives, it builds confidence.”

Through fun activities, lifeguards press three lifesaving techniques upon the campers.

“Reach, Throw, Don’t Go” teaches children to never jump into a pool or other body of water to help a struggling friend. Instead, the child should reach from the side of the pool for a struggling friend or throw a rescue buoy to him/her. Children should also go get an adult.

“Jump, Push, Turn, Grab” teaches children to push off the bottom of the pool as they are submerging to get back the surface while turning to grab the side of the pool.

“Swim, Float, Swim” teaches children to swim a short distance on their front, roll over onto their back to rest, and then roll on their front to continue swimming to safety.

Lifeguards constantly remind children that they should always ask for permission to go swimming from an adult before jumping into a pool.

Donations allow the Y to provide the vital Safety Around Water program to all campers. This year, Tyson Foods of Humboldt donated $1,500 to help fund the program.

“We are so thankful to have donors such as Tyson Foods,” White said. “Programs such as Safety Around Water would not be possible without our donor support.”

The YMCA also offers swim lessons. For more information, contact the Y at 731-420-4277.

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