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Missouri Alliance of YMCAs raise drowning awareness during Water Safety month

The Missouri Alliance of YMCAs, Bass Pro Shops, and Kids Win Missouri raised awareness about the risk of drowning on the steps of the State Capitol May 23. The event was held as part of the state’s efforts during National Water Safety Month.

Bass Pro Shops also donated a limited number of life jackets that were available for children to take home.

Drowning is the number one cause of preventable death for children ages 1-4 and is the 5th leading cause of unintentional injury death in the US. Missouri is 26th in the nation in drowning deaths per 100,00 residents  with 1.31 and had nine children drown in 2020.

“This summer we want all kids and families to have the opportunity for fun by the water,” Casey Hanson, director of outreach and engagement with Kids Win Missouri said in a press release. “We hope that by bringing attention to these critical water safety tips, we can help reduce the number of families facing these tragedies.”

According to the Missouri Alliance of YMCAs, the Y teaches more than 1 million children and families invaluable water safety and swimming skills each year. The goal of these classes is to make sure parents, caregivers and children make water safety a top priority as they head back into the water this year.

The YMCA also cited certain statistics they wanted people who are going to partake in water activities over the summer to be aware of.

  •  Per the CDC, drowning rates for black children are significantly higher in all age categories of children, adolescents, and young adults. Drowning in a swimming pool was almost six times more likely among black children and adolescents aged 5–18 years than among their white peers.
  • According to the US Census 1 in 5 Americans have a disability; 1 in 6 children have one or more developmental disabilities. Drowning is the leading cause of death for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Children with ASD are 160 times more likely to die from drowning than other children.
  • Low-income housing and rural areas without access to pools are underserved.

The YMCA also gave five tips to keep in mind while in the water to ensure a safe and enjoyable summer.

  1. Enroll your children in swim lessons and safety around watercourses.
  2. Never swim alone or without a water watcher. When children are swimming, make sure they are actively supervised at all times. Teach your children that they should only swim in locations where a lifeguard is on duty, or where a responsible adult agrees to watch the children in the water without distractions.
  3. Supervise your children whenever they’re in or near water. Whether it’s bath time, taking a dip in a pool or lake, or playing near a backyard pond, make sure your children are within arm’s reach at all times.
  4. Wear a life jacket: Inexperienced or non-swimmers should wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket. Life jackets should be worn on boats, on the river, and in the lake at all times regardless of swim ability.
  5. Don’t jump in the water to save a friend who is struggling in deep water. If a child finds their friend in deep water unexpectedly, their natural instinct may be to jump in the water to try to save them. Even if a child is a great swimmer, a panicked person will overpower them and easily pull the rescuer underwater. The Y’s Safety Around Water program teaches the “reach, throw, don’t go” concept of using a long object to reach for them and pull them to safety. By using this technique children can help their friends without compromising their own safety.

For more information on water safety from the YMCA, click here.