Water safety tips ahead of Memorial Day weekend

As we head into Memorial Day weekend, a lot of pools will be opening and it’s a good time to remind you about some important water safety for the summer.

Last week, the CDC put out new statistics showing more people are drowning.

Drowning is the leading cause of death for kids in the U.S.

“Statistics will tell you that enrolling in swim lessons and practicing water safety can reduce drowning by 88%,” said Carol Grande, General Manager of Goldfish Swim School Wexford.

Experts in the swimming field agree that swim lessons are the first line of defense against drowning.

“We have some work to do, getting people into swim lessons,” said Chris Biswick, Aquatic Supervisor for Upper St. Clair.

The Red Cross surveyed people and only 40% said they were water-competent: meaning you can jump in over your head, tread water for a minute, and swim 25 yards to get out.

Goldfish Wexford swim instructor Maryann explains what to do if you find yourself struggling in the water:

“Try and get that head out of the water, teach them just to float on their backs, so they’re not struggling, wasting that energy,” said Maryann.

Drowning is silent and quick. It can happen in under a minute.

If you see someone struggling in the water, Biswick says:

“You don’t want to go in the deep end. You want to make sure you throw something out to them. You never want to go in the deep end if you can’t stand if someone is struggling.”

Biswick says you’ll get fatigued trying to keep yourself and them up.

“So, the easiest thing would be pool noodles. They are always around at the pool, so you want to reach a pool noodle out to them,” Biswick showed us. He also says you can reach a pool skimmer or broom out to them.

If they’re farther out, grab a life ring. You find them at commercial pools. Life jackets and kickboards are other options to throw to keep them afloat.

“It’s scary anytime kids are near any amount of water; there’s always a risk. We feel much better knowing that they’re strong swimmers,” said Christy McCandless, mom of two.

That confidence was put to the test when her daughter, Lydia who is now four, was just a year old and fell in the pool, even with four adults around.

“It was unbelievable! She was under for about two seconds and then she popped right up and was floating on the water with her little chin out,” said McCandless.

Christy and her husband, David, credit that to Lydia’s swim lessons that they started when she was just months old.

A few more things Grande wants you to remember:

Keep a barrier between kids and water—whether that’s your pool gate that’s locked or a parent watching them when they’re near the water.

Never take your eyes off of kids---make sure there’s a designated water watcher if you’re with a group.

Keep the pool toys out of the pool so kids aren’t tempted to go in for them.

Click here for more tips from the American Red Cross.

Click here for Goldfish Swim School’s safe swimmer pledge.

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