BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. - Here's a statistic that will get your attention: Palm Beach County regularly ranks among the top three counties in the United States for drownings.
On Thursday, the YMCA and Drowning Prevention Coalition will announce a new push to change that stat.
Impact 100, a charitable organization, has donated enough money for the agencies to give 10,000 children in southern Palm Beach County free swim lessons through 2018.
The news coincides with the beginning of drowning prevention month. In Palm Beach County, organizations highlight drowning prevention month one month earlier than the rest of the country because the swimming season begins earlier in South Florida.
April 1 also marks the date parents can apply for a voucher to get a free swim lesson from the Drowning Prevention Coalition.
YMCA Director of Community Water Safety Liz Schmidt said swim lessons are one of the best ways to prevent drowning.
"Simple steps like eight, 30-minute swim lessons can make your child safer," Schmidt pointed out. "Watching your child around the water, or locking that screen door [to the backyard pool] are simple things you can do to prevent a tragedy."
Statistics show most drownings in Palm Beach County happen in swimming pools and when children are unsupervised.
Here are tips to prevent a drowning:
- Install a barrier or fence around your pool
- Place alarm on doors leading to the pool to alert you if a child wanders toward the water
- Swim at a guarded beach
- Take swimming lessons
- No horseplay or “dunking” in pools
- Wear a lifejacket on a boat
For information about signing up for swim lessons, or applying for a voucher, click here.