BRANFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — The statistics are staggering. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drowning is the leading cause of death for kids ages 1 to 4 and the second leading cause of death for those between the ages of 5 to 14.

That’s why the Soundview Family YMCA in Branford puts campers through this swim evaluation at the start of every session.

“We want to make sure children and family’s are water safe,” Executive Director Matthew LaPrino said.

Water safety tips include:

  • Know your surroundings
  • Buddy-up in the water, don’t swim alone
  • Know if a lifeguard is on duty
  • Even if they are, parents should stay aware

Tragedy in the water can happen so fast.

“Don’t look at your phone when you have children swimming in a pool or swimming in the ocean,” LaPrino said.

Another tip for parents going viral on social media and addressed by the National Drowning Prevention Alliance: Don’t put your child in a blue bathing suit.

“Blue suits have a harder time being seen in a pool or body of water than bright colored suits,” says LaPrino.

While he sees the value in this advice, teaching water safety is still the YMCA’s main focus.

A green bracelet signals a mastery of water safety then campers work on becoming strong swimmers.

“It’s going to be a mix of endurance and then stroke developments,” LaPrino said.

He said all kids should have access to swimming lessons. Financial assistance and free programming is available — all you have to do is make a call to your local YMCA.

“That’s one of the biggest things is giving access to those that may not think they have access – that’s what we’re here for,” LaPrino said.

The YMCA wants every child to be “water safe” by the age of 12.

Click here for information about programs offered by the Soundview YMCA