By Wendy Bacigalupi-Bednarz, Editorial Contributor
Keeping children safe is a priority both inside and outside the home. That’s especially true if you live near water, which most Central Floridians do. It takes only a moment of parental distraction for a child to reach water unsupervised and get into a potential drowning situation, says Dr. Donald Plumley, director of pediatric trauma at Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children.
The Florida Department of Children and Families says that out of the 73 accidental youth drownings reported in 2016, 70 percent involved children ages three and younger. There are safety steps you can take to help prevent drownings and provide young kids with water survival skills. Survival swimming lessons should be part of your water safety plan.
What is Survival Swimming?
The YMCA of Central Florida, with support from the Dr. Phillips Charities and in collaboration with Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children, offers a survival swimming program called Safe Start. The program teaches young children — even babies as young as six months old — to save themselves from drowning. Through Safe Start, infants learn to hold their breath underwater, roll onto their backs and float unassisted, while toddlers learn a swim-float-swim sequence in case they accidentally fall into a pool or body of water.
Survival swimming dates back to 1966 when behavioral scientist Harvey Barnett, PhD developed a self-rescue method to help prevent accidental youth drownings. The YMCA of Central Florida launched its program in 1999, and reports that more than 18,500 local children have learned these essential water survival skills since then. By using these techniques, nearly 100 of these youngsters have survived a potential drowning situation, according to documented stories.
See how survival swimming works at YMCAcf.org.