New DAP Member, Nikole Saffle
was featured in Detroit Free Press
, by Cassandra Spratling:
Q: What's the first thing you thought when you heard news of six teens who drowned last week in Shreveport, La.?
A: I was horrified. We had a similar incident here in Detroit (in May) on Belle Isle. It's a common problem, especially in minority communities -- parents not knowing and not teaching their kids how to swim. I hate to hear about incidents like that because it does not have to happen.
Q: Why is it common?
A: There are studies out that show the drowning rate is two to three times higher for African-American and Hispanic kids in urban area than it is for other kids. Among African-American kids, up to 70% ages 5 to 12 don't swim or swim very little.
Q: Can you offer some advice on how to help someone who is in trouble in the water?
A: Don't go into the water if you don't know how to swim. We teach, "Reach or throw, don't go." So that means don't go in after the person, throw something that the person in the water can hold onto. Ideally, something that floats that they can hold onto.
Q: What are other keys to being safe?
A: For young children, there needs to be adequate supervision. That doesn't mean an adult sitting and reading by the pool; it means eyes on children who are around and in water. Also, know the water you're going to swim in. If you're a nonswimmer, you should be certain to be in water that's less than your height. Swim only where there are lifeguards and wear Coast Guard-approved life jackets.
Most importantly, learn to swim. The biggest factor in drowning is the inability to swim. ... Water safety education is so important. We teach our kids to look before crossing the street, but we don't teach them to be safe around water.
Q: So how can we learn about swim lessons offered by the Y in metropolitan Detroit.
A: The best way is to visit our Web site. It has the locations throughout metropolitan Detroit. We start teaching kids as young as 3. It's best to start young so they don't develop the fear of the water. The Web site is www.ymcadetroit.org