CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The YMCA of Greater Charlotte is urging parents to be alert heading into the summer swimming season.
Ame Guy, association director of aquatics for the Greater Charlotte branch, said many families haven’t put their children in swimming lessons or children may not be swimming at their age level because of pandemic-related reasons.
“We are, you know, possibly seeing children who haven’t received lessons the past two summers, so we’re really making sure that parents are super vigilant around the water and their children,” she said.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, child drownings remain the leading cause of unintentional death among children ages one to four years old.
In North Carolina, data from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in 2020 showed 24 children died of accidental drowning. Seven of those drownings - about a third - happened in a pool.
This year, more than ever, Guy said parents on the sidelines need to put their phones away and pay attention because a child can go underwater silently in a matter of seconds.
“In 10 seconds, that child can struggle, go under the water," she said. "20 seconds pass, that child’s at the bottom of the pool, and we may not know it."
In addition, the YMCA of Greater Charlotte is seeing a shortage of lifeguards. The Y is still looking to hire 200 more lifeguards and 150 swim instructors for the summer.
“We’re even seeing in some of our neighborhood pools go away from lifeguards because of the shortage we’re seeing,” Guy said. “So, you could have some unguarded pools this summer, and a lot of parents might think that’s great. That’s not great. That is a recipe for disaster in Mecklenburg County.”
The YMCA of Greater Charlotte is encouraging parents to enroll kids in swim lessons, know their child’s skill level in the water, make sure they’re wearing the appropriate flotation devices, and appoint a water watcher at all times.