|Messenger photo by Dedra Cordle|
Instructor Paul Hover tests the skills of 4-year-old Scarlett Evans during a swim ability evaluation at the Vaughn E Hairston YMCA.
With the hazy days of summer ahead, swimming pools will become a popular destination for children looking for ways to beat the heat and pass the time. While a day playing in the water may seem idyllic, one should not forget the potential danger.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drowning is the sixth leading cause of unintentional injury or death for people of all ages, and the second leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 14 years. Additionally, among children ages 1 to 4 years, most drownings occur in residential swimming pools.
To raise awareness of this problem, the YMCA of Central Ohio recently held a swim ability evaluation at all of their branches to stress the importance of swimming lessons.
“Every child should know how to swim, said Kathy Cook, the aquatics director at the Vaughn E. Hairston YMCA.Parents can sometimes be naive about their childs swimming skills as well as their own and they have to know how to handle a situation in the water should it arise.
Megan Evans, a former lifeguard at the Big Splash in Grove City, said safety is the reason why she enrolled her 4-year-old daughter Scarlett in swimming lessons.
“Several people in my family have pools and we have passes to Zoombezi Bay, so we want her to be safe and comfortable in the water, she said.
Evans said Scarlett has been taking lessons since April and they have already noticed improvement.
“There has been such a change in her comfort level in the water, she said.Shes doing so well.
Tiffany Russell said she enrolled her children in swimming lessons so they can learn beyond the basics.
“They (the instructors) can teach them stuff I wouldnt even think to teach them.
In addition to swimming evaluations, the YMCA also offered boat safety demonstrations since boating is another popular water activity that can pose serious dangers if
precautions are not taken. For example, in 2009, 9 out of 10 people who drowned while boating were not wearing lifejackets, says a report by the U.S. Coast Guard.
Paul Hover, a swimming instructor at the YMCA in Urbancrest, said the best thing parents and adult supervisors can do to keep kids safe in the pool is to watch them.
“Never leave them alone in the pool, he said.It only takes seconds for a child to drown.
Pool Safely, a public education campaign from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission suggests these tips for pool safety:
•Teach children basic water safety skills
•Avoid entrapment by keeping kids away from drains, pipes or other openings
•Keep a phone nearby in case of emergencies
•Learn how to swim
•Install a fence around the perimeter of the pool
•Keep life-saving equipment such as life-rings or floats in the vicinity
For more information on pool safety, go to www.PoolSafely.gov. To find out where to enroll your child in lessons, go to www.ymcacolumbus.org.