THE YMCA'S OF NORTH TEXAS COMMIT TO ELIMINATE CHILDHOOD DROWNING
Drowning is the second leading cause of death of preschoolers, second only to birth defects. That statistic, along with so many other sobering ones – a residential pool is 14 times more likely to the take the life of a child than an automobile, minority children are 3 times more likely to drown – and every time we see a news report of yet another accidental drowning, have made us come together and say we must do something together to reverse these trends. That’s why the YMCA’s of North Texas (Dallas, Fort Worth, Arlington Mansfield Area) are committing today to eliminate childhood drowning in kids 4 and under.
As the summer swim season kicks off, it’s time to think about how we can protect our children around water. Drowning happens to great parents and the majority of the time, right in the pool in their backyard. Many parents think that their child will scream or kick when they are in trouble in the water, but the sad fact is that you will not hear your child drown. Drowning is quick and silent. It takes 20 seconds for a child to become unconscious, 90 seconds for irreversible damage.
To help tackle this issue, we are promoting education and steps parents can take to do their part in prevention. At our YMCA’s, we promote water safety year-round and teach thousands of children to swim each spring and summer, including in underserved communities where these classes are offered free of charge. We offer free swim assessments and swimming lessons. But we can’t achieve our goal without the help of parents who are with their kids around water.
When you are watching your kids around the pool, it’s unlike any other time you watch them. Your eyes should actively be on your child at all times. Many backyard drownings are accidents where the adults are present but are barbecuing, talking to one another, or run inside quickly. The YMCA offers Water Watcher tags as a resource to help remind adults that when they are wearing it, watching the kids around water should be their sole focus.
Most accidental drownings happen in backyard pools. Install additional safety features to keep your child from getting into the pool when they shouldn’t be there – a fence around the pool and/or an alarm on your back door is a good place to start.
According to the CDC, swimming lessons reduce the risk of drowning in preschoolers by 88%. But even if you have your young child in swim lessons, it’s also a good idea for them to wear a Coast Guard approved life jacket in and around the pool as extra insurance for your child around water. Keep it on them at all times – even if they are out of the water on the pool deck taking a break or eating lunch.
Childhood drownings are preventable. We ask you to join us in committing to end childhood drowning. Enroll your child in swim lessons, keep eyes on them at all times in the pool and create those barriers to make pools harder to access. Tell them, even when they are young, they should not swim without your permission. We can reverse these statistics and with your help, ensure no preschool aged child drowns in North Texas.
Mike Brown, President and CEO, YMCA of Metropolitan Fort Worth
Curt Hazelbaker, President and CEO, YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas
Eric Tucker, President and CEO, Arlington-Mansfield Area YMCA