Safety Around Water


Water Safety and Swimming

As 'America's swim instructor,' the YMCA teaches children of all ages and backgrounds that water should be fun, not feared, if you know how to stay safe in and around it. The YMCA helps kids of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds develop the skills they need to become strong, confident swimmers.

Safety Around Water at the Y

From oceans to lakes to streams to swimming pools, water is everywhere: 71% of the Earth’s surface is covered in it! And while water can be an irresistible place for kids to explore, play, and enjoy splashy fun, it can also be risky for those who haven’t yet developed their water smarts.

Safety Around Water is composed of eight 30-minute sessions designed to reduce the risk of drowning by giving children confidence in and around water. The program is geared towards teaching unintended entries into the water and safety measures. Our goal is to ensure that if a child falls in, they can swim, float, tread, and exit the water.

The program includes:

  • Exercises to help kids adjust to being in the water
  • Instruction in two skill sets kids can use if they unexpectedly find themselves in the water: Jump, Push, Turn, Grab and Swim, Float, Swim.
  • Safety topics such as what to do if you see someone in the water who needs help
  • Fun activities that reinforce skills

Did You Know?

Parents and guardians have a critical role to play in teaching their kids water safety skills – but they don’t have to do it alone! Each year, the Y teaches more than one million kids life-saving swimming and safety around water skills.

  • 9 IN 10 U.S. parents see swimming as a key life skill for children, on par with first aid skills or being able to prepare a simple meal.
  • 24% of U.S. parents have low confidence with water activities or bodies of water.
  • 1 IN 2 U.S. parents believe water safety classes are expensive compared to other groups surveyed.
  • 3 IN 10 U.S. parents state that water safety isn’t a priority due to affordability concerns.

Drowning can happen nearly anywhere with standing water

Water Safety Tips for Parents and Guardians

Drowning can happen nearly anywhere with standing water. But, as a parent or caregiver, you can’t keep your children sidelined. You need to equip them with the tools they need to be confident in and around water so they don’t miss out on the health benefits of exercise, the opportunities to bond with family and friends, and the sense of accomplishment when they learn new skills.

Here are some key tips:

  • Make sure kids know to always ask permission before going into or near water.
  • Designate a responsible adult to be a Water Watcher and maintain constant visual contact with all children playing in or near the water.
  • Water Watchers: make sure you’re not distracted by your phone, a book, or other tasks.
  • Don’t rely on water toys to protect weak swimmers. Coast Guard-approved life jackets are the only water safety devices certified to protect children.
  • Teach children to avoid drains in the pool: drains can cause them to get trapped underwater.
  • Don’t let kids play breath-holding games. They can easily lose consciousness.