Last year, 11 children died from drowning in Hillsborough County. That is more than any other county in Florida. In an effort to reduce this number, the Tampa Metropolitan YMCA is offering FREE swimming lessons to families. Swim lessons run from March 18-21 and are open to children ages 3-12.

In a state where children are surrounded year-round by bodies of water such as pools, rivers and the Gulf, swimming is a skill that is particularly important. Thanks to a Florida Blue Foundation Grant, the four-day course will be offered free to families. Kids will learn to “Jump, Push, Turn, Grab,” and “Swim, Float, Swim,” which are two sets of skills that are extremely helpful in situations where the child cannot touch the bottom. In order to participate, you must pre-register.

Drownings are preventable!

Here are ways you and your family can help prevent drownings:

  1. Know that it isn’t always apparent when someone is drowning. In fact, 88% of drownings occur with at LEAST one adult present. Loud screams and flailing arms may be what you see in movies, but oftentimes people show no apparent signs of distress while drowning.
  2. Place alarms on doors that allow access to pools.
  3. Never leave a child unattended in the bath. If you must leave the room, always take the child with you.
  4. Install a pool alarm and cover for your home’s swimming pool. If your child is visiting a friend or relative’s house, inquire about their pool rules and safety precautions.
  5. Check weather conditions before entering the Gulf or Bay. High winds and strong currents are known to carry swimmers away from shore. Do not rely solely on lifeguards to watch your children!
  6. If you have a pool, install fencing around all sides along with a secure lock.
  7. Don’t leave bathtubs, bucks or other containers with liquid unattended. It doesn’t take a large body of water for a child to drown.
  8. Remove ladders from above-ground pools when not in use.
  9. Understand swim lessons aren’t just for kids. Recognize and be honest about your own swimming level. If you aren’t comfortable swimming or treading water for extended periods of time, look into swim lessons for adults. Don’t be ashamed or embarrassed about your level of comfort.
  10. Don’t miss out on an opportunity for your kids to learn to swim for free at the YMCA.

Families should never have to deal with the loss of a loved one due to drowning. We are glad to see the Tampa Metro YMCA doing its part to help prevent these senseless deaths in our community.