As the temperatures rise, many venture out to pools, lakes, ponds and beaches to cool off, but water can be dangerous if the proper precautions aren’t taken.
Drowning is the second leading cause of death for kids in the U.S. between the ages of 5 and 14, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only one-third of African-Americans are reported to have strong swimming skills.
Mom Tameka Wilson suggests an intense fear of getting hurt or drowning is one of the things holding some back from learning.
“I think in our culture, it’s just not something that people think is really important,” she says. “Even though you are afraid, it’s okay, push yourself to do it anyway, because it’s just a good skill to have.”
Wilson taught herself how to swim and now her daughters Gabrielle and Arial are taking lessons.
The YMCA in Charlotte, North Carolina is offering free swim instruction and safety tips for children living in low-income areas. They’re at greater risk of drowning.
The YMCA’s Amanda McIntyre says if you encounter someone in trouble, remember this phrase: ‘Throw, don’t go!’
“Whether that is in a pool at a facility with noodles or in your back yard. You can throw out a rope for instance,” she says.
Experts say swimming is a life-building skill, so it is a good idea to swim with a buddy.