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  • Northeast Wisconsin
  • May 2018
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Water safety should be a basic life skill

There is a list of basic life skills all parents instinctively know they must teach their children to keep them safe and healthy. It includes habits like looking both ways before you cross the street, washing your hands with soap and water, and eating the right amount of fruits and vegetables every day. For too many parents, safety in and around water is not on the list; and that’s something we need to change.

“Swimming is not only a fun, healthy activity, but an important life skill for all children,” Angie Kennedy, an area Aquatics Director, says. “Learning basic water safety skills is a great introduction to the world of swimming that often continues with swim lessons and competitive swim programs, and can even lead to a career.”

May is Water Safety Month, and a great time for parents to take an active role in fostering a relationship between their children and swimming — beginning with water safety. Begin practicing water safety at an early age, and reinforce these guiding principles no matter how good of a swimmer your child becomes.

Following are safety tips to practice when in and around the water:

  • Only swim when and where there is a lifeguard on duty; never swim alone.
  • Adults should constantly, and actively, watch their children.
  • Inexperienced or non-swimmers should wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket.
  • Parents or guardians of young children should be within arm’s reach.
  • Children and adults should not engage in breath holding activities.

In addition to learning lifesaving water safety skills, children can increase their physical activity by swimming. Swimming also motivates children to strive for self-improvement, teaches goal orientation and cultivates a positive mental attitude and high self-esteem.

If children know how to stay safe in and around water, swimming can be a lifelong source of fun and exercise. Instead of keeping your children away from water, help them learn fundamental water safety skills by enrolling them in lessons. Take the time to find lessons that have a high degree of safety instruction as part of the curriculum. Swim lessons teach young people valuable skills like what to do if they find themselves in the water unexpectedly, a situation every child should be equipped to handle. They also provide a new, exciting way to keep active and meet new friends.

Nikki Boyd

Nikki Boyd is the Aquatics Director at the Fox West YMCA. She began her career in aquatics with the Y 16 years ago. Nikki received her B.S. in Retail Business Management from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. She is an American Red Cross Lifeguard Instructor, and Instructor Trainer, as well as an American Red Cross WSI (water safety instructor) and WSIT (water safety instructor trainer). Contact Nikki at [email protected]

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