Local News

As Summer Approaches, Water Safety Should Be Top of Mind


Alexandria, Minnesota – The Alexandria Area YMCA wants to ensure that water safety doesn’t get lost in our community’s eagerness to return to summer. As temperatures rise, kids want to cool off in pools, ponds, lakes, rivers or streams. And that means the risk of drowning is as prevalent as ever. For National Water Safety Month this May, the Alexandria Area YMCA is encouraging parents and caregivers to reinforce the importance of water safety skills with the whole family.


YMCA Headshots
YMCA Aquatics Coordinator, Rob Plaman

“If asked, most parents can immediately rattle off a list of basic life skills they instinctively know their children must learn to be safe and healthy. These lists usually include habits like looking both ways before crossing the street, washing hands with soap and water (timed by singing the “Happy Birthday” song) and eating the correct daily serving of fruits and vegetables. But for too many parents, safety around water is not on the list; and that’s something we need to address,” said Rob Plaman, Aquatics Coordinator, Alexandria Area YMCA.


Fatal drowning is the second-leading cause of unintentional injury-related death for children ages 1 to 14 years old.

“We want to remind parents and caregivers that it’s more important than ever to keep water safety top of mind as families start to return to their usual summer routines,” said Plaman.


From Monday, April 24 to Friday, April 28, the YMCA is offering free Safety Around Water programming for kids ages 7 to 9. This program focuses on teaching kids about the importance of water safety skills and provides more kids in our community access to water safety lessons. These lessons teach youth valuable skills for when they find themselves in the water unexpectedly, a scary situation every child should be equipped to handle.


Parents or guardians can register their kids for the 4-4:40 p.m., 5-5:40 p.m., or 6-6:40 p.m. session Monday-Thursday. A typical session includes exercises to help them adjust to being in water, instruction in “Jump, Push, Turn, Grab” and “Swim, Float, Swim” techniques, dry-land games and activities to encourage awareness around water, and handouts for parents and caregivers with additional water safety tips. The program ends on Friday, April 28 with a fun event and door prizes.


The Y is committed to making swimming part of the list of basic life skills and reducing water-related injuries, particularly in communities where children are most at risk.


In the lead up to National Water Safety Month in May, the Alexandria Area YMCA is 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.


  1. 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.
  2. 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.


  1. Wear a life jacket: Inexperienced or non-swimmers should wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket.


  1. 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.


For more information about Safety Around Water, or to register please visit www.alexandriaymca.com, or contact Rob Plaman at (320) 834-9622 or email rplaman@alexandriaymca.com.



About the Y

Driven by its founding mission, the Y has served as a leading nonprofit committed to strengthening community for more than 175 years. The Y empowers everyone, no matter who they are or where they’re from, by ensuring access to resources, relationships and opportunities for all to learn, grow and thrive. By bringing together people from different backgrounds, perspectives and generations, the Y’s goal is to improve overall health and well-being, ignite youth empowerment and demonstrate the importance of connections in and across 10,000 communities nationwide.