Published: 04/04/2024 - 1:00 PM

Warmer weather is right around the corner. So are plans for sun, swimming, and fun around the pool. Which makes this a great time to brush up on pool and water safety.

At the Y, we’ve been teaching people to navigate pools for decades. In fact, no one has taught more Americans to swim and enjoy pools safely. 

At the Greater Philadelphia Y, specifically, we taught more than 17,000 kids how to swim in 2023 alone. We taught hundreds more essential water skills through our FREE Safety Around Water program. 

Here are some things to keep in mind as summer approaches: 

First Rule: Take Water Safety Seriously

Our lifeguards will tell you: No one likes to be corrected around a pool. But they take their jobs seriously for very good reasons. 

More than 4000 people drown on average in the US each year. In fact, drowning is the leading cause of death for children ages 1 – 4, and the second-leading cause for kids 5 – 14. 

It doesn’t take much water to put a child in danger, either.  Some fatal drownings occur in the family bathtub. Even near-drownings can leave a lasting impact, with lung and brain injuries sometimes scarring people for life. 

The good news is that most of this danger is preventable when children and adults learn some fundamental skills.  Skills like those we teach in our free Safety Around Water courses several times a year.


Second Rule: Be Prepared

When you plan on fun, you don’t plan on bad things happening. As Ben Franklin famously said, however, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Make time – and room in your budget – for safety. Life vests and proper-fitting float gear, especially for young or inexperienced children, will always be a worthy investment. Poles, float rings, pool sensors can also prove useful. 

Above all, your attention is the best tool for preventing accidents. Many people assume that someone who is drowning will splash, yell, and make their distress obvious. But far too many cases have proven the opposite. Drowning can often happen quickly and quietly. 

Keep an active, undistracted eye on kids. Better yet, get in the pool with them and stay by their side as much as you can. (This is one of our rules of thumb during swim instruction.) Your undivided attention not only makes a difference, but it’s also a great bonding opportunity.

Third Rule: Visibility Is Your Partner

Water can make things tougher to see. Ripples, splashing, light reflection – they all obscure your vision. Help make visibility easier by choosing brightly colored swim gear. Pick colors that stand out against typical pool color pallets of blue and green. 

Fourth Rule: Stay Away from the Drain

Drains, especially on older pools, can be quite strong. They can sometimes suck a child in and are often too strong for kids to overcome. 

An anti-entrapment drain cover can help. Steering clear is better.

Fifth Rule: Breathe!

Confession time: We’ve all played the game, where we see who can hold their breath underwater the longest. Seems like harmless fun, but it can become dangerous. Getting light-headed, or potentially passing out, in the water is a totally preventable risk. Keep your head in the game; breathe.


Sixth Rule: A Clean Pool is a Safe Pool

“Meh, I’ll get it later.” It’s tempting to leave things in the pool, or on the pool deck. Toys, floaties, personal belongings, cleaning supplies. When a pool becomes a storage unit, however, it invites trouble. A child may go looking for a toy unsupervised. A spill might lead to slips and falls. A cleaning supply could be ingested by a curious child. The cleaner you keep the area, the better. 

All this said, there’s no reason your summer fun should be interrupted by accidents or injuries. A few preventative steps, as described above, will go a long way to keeping the fun going.

Swim Instruction In The Greater Philadelphia Area

The final step – really, the best step! – is to gain the life-changing skills you get from swim instruction.  At the Y, we’ve taught millions not only how to enjoy water safely, but to make water a vital component of their health routine. It offers marvelous options for exercise, but it can also lead to a wider community of friends, lessons in teamwork, mind-body connection, stress relief, and so much more. What’s more it’s a skill we can teach to people in any stage of life – from toddlers to seniors. And it all starts by taking the first step into one of our world-class pools. 

To learn more about Y swim instruction, or about our FREE (and open to the public) Safety Around Water courses, click the button below.

Swimming at the Y