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May is Water Safety awareness month and learning early can be a lifesaver.

Drowning remains the number one cause of unintentional injury-related death among children ages 1 to 4.

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — The weather is getting warmer and that means it's almost the perfect time to enjoy the water. "57% of the families this summer are going to be in and around the water at some point in time," Michael Reams, General Manager of Goldfish Swim School in Madison shares. May is National Water Safety Awareness Month and unfortunately, childhood drowning is truly a public health epidemic." Between the ages of one and four, drowning is the most unintentional death among children at that age group," Reams shares. "And it's been shown that for children enrolled in swim lessons, 88% of that drowning can be prevented by being enrolled in lessons."

According to the National Drowning Prevention Alliance (NDPA), we lose 10 school buses worth of children to unintentional drownings per year, with the average school bus seating 80 students, resulting in an average of 854 children per year. “Water safety and childhood drowning prevention are year-round priorities that require year-round attention,” says Adam Katchmarchi, Ph.D., Executive Director, NDPA

Goldfish Swim School in Madison is just one of many places teaching parents the important of water safety. "We're really just working on the safety recognition of things we practice while safety skills of the children never fall into the pool. They know what to recognize and where to go back to." Reams also encourages parents to do practicing outside of the "classroom". "Teaching a child how to float. Teaching your child how to do a rollover breath. A lot of children just want to swim underwater and try to get as far as they can and unfortunately, they can't make it to safety. Then treading. Making sure that your swimmer is strong and can tread and hopefully somebody will be able to recognize what's going on and get to them in time before anything bad happens to them."

The pool is also the place to make a fashion statement, but there is away to do that and still be safe. " Don't dress your children in in colors that will blend in with the water," Reams adds. "You want them to have bright colors to make sure that they're able to be seen, especially if they're at the bottom swimming." 

Credit: foss

"Also, life jackets. You want to get rid of the puddle jumpers and the floaties, and you want to actually make sure your lifejacket is a Coast Guard approved lifejacket jacket, make sure that it fits properly, that the child is actually fitted correctly, and the jacket won't slip off. The child or put them in the wrong position when they're floating with the jacket. If it fits incorrectly, then the child could be at risk of being pushed into the water at the wrong, wrong position."

Credit: red cross

May 20th, Goldfish will be having a FREE Water Safety Day where you can get all these tips plus more. Information on the school and event can be found here.

NDPA’s 5 Layers of Protection: 

1. Barriers & Alarms: It's important to use four-sided fencing with self-closing, self-latching gates, pool safety covers, and alarm systems to help prevent children and unauthorized adults from accessing water unsupervised.

 2. Supervision: Stay vigilant and aware of your surroundings with close, constant, and capable adult supervision from a designated water watcher or lifeguard anytime children are in or around water. 

3. Water Competency: Every child and adult should be equipped with the skills to protect themselves in water by learning and enhancing their basic water safety skills to reduce the risk of drowning and aquatic-related injuries. 

4. Life Jackets: When used appropriately, life jackets protect you when you are not expecting to be in the water, especially around open water. Ensure your life jackets are tested and approved by the United States Coast Guard (USCG). 

5. Emergency Preparation: Knowing how to prepare for an emergency with CPR training with rescue breaths, and basic water rescue skills can make the difference between life and death. Have a phone available and ready to call 911.

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