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AS COMMUNITIES REOPEN, WATER SAFETY SHOULD BE TOP OF MIND

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Rocky Mount, Va. (July 28, 2021) – Franklin County Family YMCA wants to ensure that water safety doesn’t get lost in Franklin County’s eagerness to reopen this summer. As temperatures rise, kids want to cool off, whether that is in home pools, ponds, lakes, rivers, streams, or oceans. This means the risk of drowning is as prevalent as ever. On August 16th the Y will be providing swim lessons to the children who missed out on school term swim sessions last year due to COVID-19.

“With the help of donations from local businesses and community members, we’re preparing to teach approximately nine hundred second and third graders invaluable water safety and swimming skills this year. Last year, we were unable to run our typical second grade swim program and want to make sure that all students have the opportunity to learn water safety,” said Kameron Kitts, Aquatics Director at the Rocky Mount YMCA.

The local businesses providing support include Carilion, CAPPs, American National Bank, Community Foundation Serving Western Virginia and Cooper Classics. The Y is encouraging other businesses and organizations in the area to support the cost of the program through tax deductible donations.

"With watersports and other activities in and near the water becoming more and more popular, now is the time to teach our kids how to be safe in and around the water.  Drowning is one of the top five causes of accidental deaths for kids ages 1-14. With the swim program and the support of our community we are able to reach a large number of these high risk kids who otherwise wouldn't be able to participate in our regularly offered lessons," said Kitts.   

During this year long program, each elementary school in the county will spend two weeks learning essential life saving swim skills in a fun and safe environment at the YMCA’s aquatic center. The Y is also encouraging parents to play an active role in promoting water safety and providing five tips to ensure a safe and enjoyable swimming experience for all.

  1. 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.
  2. Supervise your children whenever they’re in or near water. Whether it’s bath time or taking a dip in a pool or lake, make sure your children are within arm’s reach at all times.
  3. Don’t engage in breath holding activities. Children should not hold their breath for a prolonged amount of time while swimming, as this can cause drowning and has several other severe physical side-effects.
  4. Wear a life jacket: Inexperienced or non-swimmers should wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket.
  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 reaction 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, pulling 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 friend without compromising their own safety.

If you or your business is interested in supporting the swim program or learning more about it, please contact Kameron Kitts at (540)489-9622 or kkitts@franklincountyymca.org.

 

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About the Franklin County Family YMCA: The Franklin County YMCA, a registered non-profit organization, plays an important part in Franklin County by offering an array of family and community oriented services at its  facilities in Rocky Mount and  Smith Mountain Lake, including childcare, fitness, group exercise, summer camp, swimming, tennis, pickleball, racquetball, and a variety of other activities and events. These services are related to its mission of youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility.

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