GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) – We’ve been hearing much lately about pools that are closed because there is a national shortage of lifeguards, so if you have a child who wants to be near the water, this is important.
An event being staged in Greensboro and dozens of other cities on Thursday is about the simple act of learning to swim.
It’s called the World’s Largest Swim Lesson, and for the first time the Greensboro Aquatic Center is joining at 10 a.m. for this 12th annual event to promote drowning prevention.
The World Waterpark Association began the effort in 2010, and the GAC is among facilities in 49 countries on six continents that participate.
WLSL says that drowning is the No. 1 cause of death of children ages 1-4 in the U.S. and the second-leading cause for those 5-14. The Children’s Safety Network says that every year nearly 900 children between the ages of 0 and 19 die from drowning.
North Carolina’s drowning rate for children 0-19 falls in a group of states that are between 11.2 and 14.8 deaths per 100,000 population annually. The mortality rates in South Carolina, Virginia and Tennessee are even worse.
The American Red Cross reports that more than 50% of Americans of all ages don’t swim or have basic skills. That figure is 56% between the ages of 4 and 17. Among Black children 5-9, the rate is 2.6 times higher than the average, 10-14 is 3.6 times higher.
The event claims that the Sun-N-Fun Lagoon in Naples, Florida, used the event to set a world record of 1,308 participants, as acknowledged by Guinness World Records. The event says more than 332,000 children have participated, and the media impressions have surpassed 2 billion.
The GAC said in a release it would partner with a summer camp sponsored by the city of Greensboro to provide about 50 children with a water safety lesson at the Lewis Recreation Center.
Seven facilities have hosted the event for all 12 years. Mecklenburg County Parks & Recreation and Chatham County Aquatic Center are listed among those who have participated for 8 years.
Parent safety tips
The WLSL publishes a list of 15 safety tips that parents of children should pursue to ensure water safety:
- Learn to swim. Anyone 1 or older can get lessons.
- Never leave children unattended.
- Wear a life jacket.
- Read all posted signs.
- Never swim alone or in unsupervised places.
- Look for lifeguards.
- Don’t drink alcohol before or during swimming.
- Spit it out: Don’t drink pool water.
- Avoid “water wings:” Air-filled swimming aids should not replace life jackets.
- Watch out for the dangerous “too’s”: Don’t get too tired, too cold or too far from safety.
- Note the weather.
- Use sunscreen.
- Keep toddlers in shallow play areas: Sprays and fountains are safer.
- Follow age and heigh instructions and health restrictions.
- Use plastic swim diapers.
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