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Red Cross Encourages Families to Make Water Safety a Priority

National Survey Finds More than Half of All Children and Teens Can’t Swim or Perform Basic Swim Safety Skills

PRINCETON, NJ, May 20, 2015 – The American Red Cross North Jersey Region is encouraging families to make water safety a priority this summer. 

“As we all gear up for trips to the pool, beach, rivers and lakes this summer, we're asking that families here in New Jersey make water safety a priority,” said Mathieu Nelessen, regional CEO, American Red Cross North Jersey Region. “Families need to make sure that both adults and children have the knowledge and skills they need to be safe in and around the water.”

A national survey conducted for the Red Cross shows that most children and teens cannot perform basic swimming safety skills. These critical water safety skills, also known as “water competency,” are the ability to, in this order: step or jump into the water over your head; return to the surface and float or tread water for one minute; turn around in a full circle and find an exit; swim 25 yards to the exit; and exit from the water. If in a pool, be able to exit without using the ladder.

The survey found that nearly all parents (94 percent) expect that their children will engage in some sort of water activity this summer. However, nearly two-thirds (61 percent) of these parents report that their child cannot demonstrate all five basic skills that could save their lives in the water. Of these, 65 percent are parents of children (ages 4-12) and 51 percent are parents of teens (ages 13-17). 

Tips to Keep You and Your Family Safe Around the Water:

1. Ensure everyone in your family knows how to swim and only swim in designated areas supervised by lifeguards. 
2. Always swim with a buddy; do not allow anyone to swim alone.
3. Have young children or inexperienced swimmers wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets around water, but do not rely on life jackets alone.
4. Provide close and constant attention to children and inexperienced swimmers you are supervising in or near the water. Avoid distractions while supervising.
5. For a backyard pool, have appropriate equipment, such as reaching or throwing equipment, a cell phone, life jackets and a first aid kit.
6. Secure the backyard pool with appropriate barriers including four-sided fencing.
7. Never leave a young child unattended near water, and do not trust a child’s life to another child. Teach children to always ask permission to go near water. If a child is missing, check the water first. 
8. If someone plans to swim in the ocean, they should always check weather conditions before going in the water.
9. Be aware of the danger of rip currents. If caught in one, swim parallel to the shore until out of the current. When free, turn and swim toward shore. If unable to swim to the shore, call out for help, float or tread water until free of the rip current and then head toward shore. 
10. If you go boating, wear a life jacket! Most boating fatalities occur from drowning.

“Summer is the perfect time to enroll children in Red Cross swim lessons, the first step in practicing water safety,” Nelessen said. “The Red Cross created the first national water safety program in the U.S. – and today it’s still the gold standard, training more than two million people annually.”

Red Cross swimming lessons help people develop skills and water safety behaviors that help people be more comfortable and safe when they are in, on and around the water. The Red Cross encourages all household members to enroll in age-appropriate water orientation and Learn-to-Swim programs. To find classes for your family, contact your local aquatic facility and ask for American Red Cross swimming and water safety programs, or visit redcross.org/TakeAClass.

On June 2, join the American Red Cross for our inaugural Giving Day, a 24-hour fundraising campaign to support those in need in communities across the country. Nearly every second of every day, the Red Cross delivers help and hope. And we couldn’t be there without the generous support of the American public. Together, let’s go “all in” and make one day count. Schedule your donation today for Giving Day at redcross.org/givingday. You can also help build awareness by using the hashtag #allin1day on Twitter and Facebook.

The national public opinion survey was conducted for the Red Cross April 17-20, 2014 using ORC International’s Online CARAVAN omnibus survey. The study was conducted among a national sample of 1,024 American adults, including 201 parents of children aged 4-17. The total sample is balanced to be representative of the US adult population in terms of age, sex, geographic region, race and education.  The margin of error for the total sample of 1,024 adults is ±3.1percent; the margin of error for the sample of 201 parents is ±6.9 percent.

About the American Red Cross
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org.

About the American Red Cross North Jersey Region
The American Red Cross North Jersey Region provides programs and services throughout the counties of Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Morris, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex, Union and Warren, with a combined population of 5.7 million. The region trains and mobilizes more than 3,330 volunteers who support the delivery of services in the community. Last year, the Red Cross North Jersey Region responded to 494 local home fires, helping 1,130 displaced families; collected 25,420 units of blood through blood drives and Red Cross Blood Donation Centers; provided 1,877 military family case services with emergency messages, helping families find assistance and/or get counseling and referrals; and trained 60,441 individuals with life-saving skills in preparedness, CPR, AED use, first aid and aquatics. Follow the North Jersey Region on Twitter @RedCrossNorthNJ.

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Contacts:
American Red Cross North Jersey Region
Diane Concannon, 609-206-4043 (cell)
diane.concannon@redcross.org
Erica Viviani, 973-309-3479 (cell)
erica.viviani@redcross.org