It's Water Safety Month!

22 May 2022
Dozens of YMCA lifeguard taking a CPR class

Water is an unavoidable force. It surrounds us (even for those of us that don't live in coastal communities); we bathe in it, we drink it, we require it to survive. But, water is also a powerful element–and it is critical that we learn to live with it, safely. Every year, nearly 10,000 YMCA locations across the country teach millions of swim lessons to every age and stage of life, including the Today's Show Craig Melvin and his brother! We even invented the group swim lesson.

To kick off Water Safety Awareness Month, and to get ready for the safest summer possibly, you may have noticed that pools across our Ys closed a few Sundays ago, and that’s because our lifeguards were hard at work brushing up on their water safety and lifesaving skills. Nearly 200 lifeguards came together at our Home Office in Chesapeake, and then tested their skills across the street at the Greenbrier Family YMCA, in order to refocus their attention and commitment to keeping everyone that makes their way to the Y safe in and around the water. Staff reviewed lifeguard rescue skills, scanning/searching skills, and safety and CPR/AED procedures. Joy Thomen, Vice President of Aquatics for the YMCA of South Hampton Roads, says her hope is that staff realize the importance of their job, and that through in-services and trainings, and the monthly reviews at each pool across the Y, they are prepared and successful in keeping all pools, and the people in them, safe.

DID YOU KNOW—As an added safety measure, all YMCA staff are asked to perform Aquatic Quick Checks when they are near any Y pool, and then are asked to submit their results for review. This allows the aquatics team and all leadership to constantly be measuring safety and training for the safest conditions!

As part of National Water Safety Month in May, the YMCA of South Hampton Roads encourages parents to take an active role in fostering a relationship between their children and swimming—beginning with water safety, especially with the summer months approaching and outdoors pools opening. The following are safety tips to practice when in and around the water: 

  • Only swim when and where there is a lifeguard on duty; never swim alone. 
  • Adults should constantly and actively watch their children.
  • Inexperienced or non-swimmers should wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket.
  • Parents or guardians of young children should be within an arm’s reach.
  • Children and adults should not engage in breath holding activities.

Check out how one Portsmouth community member's passion to save children from drowning after the tragic loss of her own cousin started a movement in Portsmouth, and how the Y was happy to partner!