MIAMI COUNTY — When the weather heats up, parents and children flock to pools to stay cool and fight summer boredom. However, in busy pools and sweltering heat, swimmers should take extra precautions to ensure safety for themselves and fellow swimmers.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), from 2005 to 2015, there were an average of 3,536 non-boating related fatal unintentional drownings per year. Additionally, about one in five people who die from drowning are children 14 and younger.
“At any new aquatics facility, parents should always ensure their children know the rules to keep themselves and other swimmers safe,” said Troy Aquatic Park manager Carrie Slater.
“Parents are the first line in the prevention of drowning,” said Leia Lander, aquatics director at the Robinson Branch of the Miami County YMCA. “Parents should always keep their children, especially non-swimmers and children six and under, at arms reach, even with a flotation device.”
At the Miami County YMCA’s and many other facilities, swimmers in need of a flotation device must have one that is Coast Guard approved. This ensures non-swimmers are protected fully against the dangers of the water.
According to the U.S. Coast Guard, safe life jackets keep distressed swimmers in a position that allows for adequate breathing. Pool noodles, water wings and other inflatable, non-Coast Guard-approved flotation devices can prove to be dangerous.
Although adequate life jackets can help distressed swimmers, the ability to swim is the best way to prevent drowning.
“The YMCA has swim lessons year round, and the Troy Aquatic Park has lessons in the summer,” said Lander. “Even with lessons, parents should practice skills with their children when they are at the pool.”
Even when children have adequate swimming skills, parents should still never let their children swim unsupervised. The YMCA recommends having a designated “pool watcher,” or an adult with the ability to recognize when there is a distressed swimmer. This person is not a replacement for a lifeguard, however. Lifeguards are trained specifically for injuries in the water. The American Red Cross warns against swimming alone and in areas not supervised by a lifeguard.
“To help lifeguards maintain a safe facility, make sure to follow rules and just use common sense,” said Donn Shade, aquatics director at the Piqua Branch of the Miami County YMCA.
“If you’re a parent, just keep a close watch on your child. Be in the water or actively supervising on deck — not on the phone or reading a book,” said Shade.
For more information on swim lessons and open swim times, visit miamicountyymca.net or troypool.net. If you have a water emergency, call 911 immediately.
Shelby Campbell is an intern at the Piqua Daily Call and a lifeguard at the Miami County YMCA who will be attending Ohio University in the fall.