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Splish splash - New water safety course from Bangor YMCA

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Splish splash - New water safety course from Bangor YMCA (photo courtesy of Bangor YMCA)

BANGOR – Drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death in children the United States. The tragic part? Sixty percent of kids who drown are within 10 feet of safety. All they needed to know was a few skills and they could have survived. 

The Bangor YMCA aims to help change that drowning statistic by teaching necessary safety skills through their “Safety Around Water” course.

YMCA national believes that teaching children to be safe around water is not a luxury, it is a necessity. The Y national created the “Safety Around Water” curriculum about a year and a half ago. The Bangor Y started teaching the swim class last spring. Matt Cook, Bangor YMCA’s aquatics director, explained, “Y national came up with the program about a year and a half ago and it took a while to kind of transition our lessons. Now we teach a hybrid of “Safety Around Water” and our old swim lessons.”

“Safety Around Water” is designed to teach young children how to execute a set of skills that will help reduce their risk of drowning and give them confidence in and around water.

“The program teaches kids how to rollover and float on their backs, how to get back to the wall if they fall into a pool and how to yell for help,” said Cook. “There’s also a boating safety component where they learn to put life jackets on. It’s not really teaching the strokes or the mechanics we used to teach in the past, it’s specifically geared towards keeping people safe around the water.”

This is a year-round program with options for four different age groups. It is recommended to start the “Safety Around Water” program at three years old and to stay in the program until the age of 12. However, you can start the program at six years old and there are also modified swim safety lessons for teens and another modification for adults.

The program is not only beneficial towards children but it also benefits parents. Most parents assume their kids are safe because they’re always under the supervision of an adult when they are near water, but statics show 88 percent of kids who drown are under adult supervision. “Safety Around Water” tries to combat that statistic by also teaching parents during the swim course.

“There’s also a component for parents,” said Cook. “We talk to them about how to always maintain visual contact with their kids especially in backyard pools.”

The statistics claim that it is important for children to learn water safety skills but the area of Maine makes it vital for kids to learn water safety skills.

As Cook explained, “Maine has a ton of lakes and rivers so it’s important for us to be able to offer this program to the public. Maine children need basic lifesaving skills so if anything happens they can float on their backs or get to shallow water. The “Safety Around Water” program is not a cure all for drowning, but it’s a step in the right direction.”

To learn more about the “Safety Around Water” program or to sign your child up for a lesson visit or call (207) 941-2802. 


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