Swimming safety and drowning awareness are important in preventing summer fun from becoming a summer tragedy – Boca Raton’s most trusted source of information
By: Robert S Weinroth
As the summer months arrive and the pandemic finally fades into the background, many families are resuming their long-delayed activities as we heeded CDC guidelines. Go out to see friends and enjoy the many recreational amenities that South Florida has to offer.
With a return to the outdoors comes the need to remember the need to protect the safety of our children. After a year of self-isolation, we need to take a few moments to remind our children to have fun but to do it safely.
Did you know that according to the PBC medical examiner, seniors have the highest drowning rate in Palm Beach County based on population?
Swimming here in South Florida is a great recreational sport that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. But it’s important to make sure our kids know how to be safe in the water.
Every summer, the news is replete with heart-wrenching stories of unsupervised children drowning in a backyard pool, canal or other body of water. It only takes a few moments for the unthinkable to happen.
The leading cause of drowning in Palm Beach County is unsupervised water activity.
The American Red Cross offers these important swimming safety tips designed to protect us from a tragedy when we go to the pool or the beach:
- Swim in designated areas, preferably supervised by lifeguards.
- Always swim with a buddy; never swim alone.
- Young children should never be left unattended near water.
- Do not entrust the life of a child to another child; Teach your children to ask permission before approaching water.
- Have young children or inexperienced swimmers wear life jackets around the water.
- Remember to protect your pets from the same dangers to your children.
- Don’t rely on life jackets alone – maintain constant surveillance.
- Make sure everyone in your family learns to swim.
- Sign up for age-appropriate aquatic orientation and learn to swim courses offered by the American Red Cross, Drowning Prevention Coalition of Palm Beach County, and YMCA of South Palm Beach County.
- If you have a swimming pool, secure it with suitable barriers. Many children who drown in family pools were out of sight for less than five minutes and in the care of one or both parents at the time.
- Avoid distractions when supervising children around the water.
- If a child is missing, check the water first. The seconds count to prevent death or disability.
- Have the appropriate equipment, such as reaching or launching materials, a cell phone, life jackets, and a first aid kit.
- Know how and when to call 911 or the local emergency number.
- Remember the need to protect your skin! Limit the amount of direct sunlight you receive between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. and wear sunscreen with a sun protection factor of at least 15.
- Drink plenty of water regularly, even if you are not thirsty. Avoid drinks containing alcohol or caffeine.
- Sign up for a home pool safety, water safety, first aid, and CPR / AED course to learn how to prevent and respond to emergencies.
The Drowning Prevention Coalition is offering vouchers for free / discounted swimming lessons for qualified children aged 2-12. Vouchers are provided on a first come / first served basis. Once funding for one fiscal year is exhausted, the program is not offered again until the next fiscal year.
A maximum of two vouchers are available per eligible child for their lifetime (3 vouchers if the child has special needs). A second voucher will be refused if the child does not attend all the lessons of the first session.
Children who reach level three in the swim program are not eligible for an additional voucher. This is to allow children who cannot swim to participate in the program.
Parents whose children are eligible and receive a voucher can enroll in classes at participating water facilities in Palm Beach County. Call 561-616-7068 for a list of facilities.
South Palm Beach County YMCA Water safety and drowning prevention program encourages the exploration of water-related activities so that our community can safely enjoy the water-rich environment in which we live.
The program serves people in the county who might not otherwise be able to take water safety lessons or take a swimming lesson due to cultural or financial factors.
The YMCA’s Safe Around Water program consists of five half-hour swimming lessons offered free of charge to qualified groups in the community. Programming is offered year-round at the YMCA or at pre-approved swim spots throughout Palm Beach County.
The program is evidence-based and developed on the basis of “Safety First, Swim Second.” This program is for children aged 3 to 17.
Do you have questions about water safety programs? Contact Libby Moon, the YMCA Drowning Prevention Coordinator at 561.237.0950.
Do you have questions about funding for water safety programs? Contact Kimberley Trombly-Burmeister, Director of Development for the YMCA, at 561.300.3238.
Let’s have a safe summer!