Learn backyard pool safety free at Towpath Trail YMCA

Learn backyard pool safety free at Towpath Trail YMCA

The Towpath Trail YMCA in Navarre welcomes the public to its backyard pool safety course that teaches how to properly help swimmers and prevent accidental drownings.


The Towpath Trail YMCA will offer a free backyard pool safety class on May 21 or May 23.

You do not have to be a member to attend, and you can choose which day you wish to attend, according to Susan Scheetz, aquatic education director. There also is no age limit.

“We encourage the whole family to come,” she said.

Rule No. 1

“Rule No. 1 is don’t be victim No. 2,” said Scheetz, who said people who don’t know how to properly help a swimmer in trouble can easily be dragged down into the water, resulting in a double drowning.

Scheetz said the need is great to prepare people to respond to a potential drowning victim.

“According to the Centers for Disease Control, drowning is the No. 1 cause of death for children under the age of 4, and it’s totally preventable,” Scheetz said.

Furthermore, Scheetz said for every child under 18 who drowns, seven more end up in emergency rooms for nearly drowning.

Additionally, the CDC said each year there are 4,000 fatal drownings and 8,000 nonfatal drownings. Those most at risk include the following:

—Children under the age of 4.

—Males, who comprise nearly 80% of all drowning victims.


—People with certain medical conditions such as epilepsy.

—Those not wearing life jackets.

—Those using alcohol or drugs.

It’s not what you think

“Real-life drowning victims look very little, if at all, like the ones you see on TV or in the movies,” Scheetz said. “There, they are splashing, their hands are up and they are yelling for help. In reality they’re so tired they can’t call for help. They are doing everything they can just to keep their heads above water and breathe.

“We want to teach people how to recognize a tired swimmer before they actually start to drown.”

It is unwise to swim to a drowning person and try to pull them out of the water unless they are unconscious.

“They will reach out and drag you down,” Scheetz said.

Instead, there are much more effective methods of saving someone, which will be taught at the pool safety class, such as Reach, Throw, Don’t Go.

In a matter of seconds

“The thing I really want to stress is how quickly things can happen,” Scheetz said. “You’re at a pool party, you’re hearing kids jump in, you hear splashing, and then you get a phone call.”

That quickly, a child can become submerged and in trouble. What’s more, according to the CDC, even if children are revived, they could still suffer lifelong injuries to the brain or spinal cord if diving in too shallow of water.

“If they’re not injured, they’ve had a life-changing experience that can leave them terrified of the water, and they have to overcome that fear because you never know when you could end up in the water,” Scheetz said.

Drownings don’t just happen pools

Scheetz said there are many situations in which a person can drown such as being in a car that ends up in the water or falling out of a boat.

“In both of these situations, you’ll have your clothes on,” Scheetz said. “We will teach people how to survive if they fall into water wearing heavy clothes.”

To attend

Reservations are not required, but Scheetz said calling ahead will help the staff be prepared because class sizes are limited. Both the May 21 and May 23 sessions will run from 5-6:30 p.m.

An open swim will be held after the class so people can practice what they’ve learned or simply enjoy the pool, whether they are YMCA members or not.

The Towpath Trail YMCA is located at 1226 Market St. NE in Navarre and can be called at 330-879-0800.

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