Erin Johnson Special to The Citizen
The Auburn community and other Cayuga County communities are so lucky that so many waterways surround us.
Residents can enjoy all of the luxuries of water, boating, swimming, skiing, etc. Now that the weather is turning nicer, families will start opening their pools as well. In addition, the lakes and rivers in the area are one of the driving forces of tourism in Cayuga County, which brings in additional people, some familiar with water and water safety, while others are more novice.
May is National Water Safety Month, and the YMCA would like to help residents stay as safe as possible when enjoying the water this summer. Unfortunately, drowning is the single leading cause of accidental death for children ages 1 to 4, and the second leading cause of accidental death for those ages 5 to 14.
Twenty-three percent of these drownings happen during a family gathering near a pool, so people need to understand essential safety tips.
Parents / adults should always be “water watchers.” For example, a person should be assigned to watch the water; one not on a cellphone, who is diligent and is near the water.
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Water watchers are important regardless of the type of water or if there is a lifeguard or not. They should be knowledgeable about emergency situations and know how to perform CPR if needed. Please remember that drowning does not discriminate; it does not matter how good a swimmer someone is. It is good practice to have children ask permission to get into the water. It is a habit that could help prevent accidents from occurring.
For those who have backyard pools, there should be proper barriers installed around the pool. Having a cover and alarms around your pool would also be prudent. Please remind children to stay away from the pool drains at the bottom of the pool.
Although drownings can happen to anyone at any time, one of the best ways to be safe around the water is to teach children how to swim and be safe around the water. Learning to swim can reduce the risk of drowning by 88% for 1-4-year-olds with formal swim lessons. The reason being is that swim lessons are based on water safety. The lessons teach the habit of asking for permission, knowing what to do if they fall in, learning to float and teaching the strokes at the higher levels.
The YMCA is the leader in swim lessons, and both the Skaneateles and Auburn branches offer swim lessons throughout the year to members and non-members. The Skaneateles branch will have lessons throughout the summer. The Auburn branch is currently running a session and will start additional sessions in July. There will be options at the Auburn YMCA as well as Casey Park.
Another way to keep our waters safe is to have lifeguards at public facilities. Unfortunately, lifeguards are scarce this season, and parents should be mindful if there is a lifeguard on duty. If you know of anyone interested in becoming a lifeguard, there are classes at the Skaneateles YMCA the weekend of June 4 and June 10. We are also in need of swim lesson instructors. If there are questions, or if you are interested in being a staff member, you can contact me at the Auburn YMCA. Registration can occur online or with our member service team.
Please refer to auburnymca.org for updated information at each branch.
Erin Johnson is aquatic and membership director of the Auburn YMCA-WEIU, 27 William St., Auburn. For more information, visit auburnymca.org or call (315) 253-5304.