In recognition of May being National Water Safety Month, the New Canaan YMCA reminds parents and swimmers to practice safety when in or around the water.

As part of its commitment to strengthening community through youth development and healthy living, the Y offers a variety of swim programs that teach water safety skills and give children and adults the chance to explore the many health benefits of swimming.

The New Canaan YMCA recommends children and adults practice the following safety tips when in and around the water:

Only swim when and where there is a lifeguard on duty; never swim alone.

Adults should constantly and actively watch their children.

Inexperienced or non-swimmers should wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket.

Parents or guardians of young children should be within an arm's reach.

Children and adults should not engage in breath-holding activities.

Install 4-foot or taller fence around pool and spa with self-latching gates. If house serves as side of fence, install an alarm to door that enters to pool area.

Teach children water safety and swimming tips as early as possible.

Install and use a lockable safety cover on your pool and spa.

Designate a "safety seat" or safe place in pool area where children can sit until they are allowed in the water. Teach young children that they must be invited into the water by an adult.

Appoint a "designated watcher" to monitor children during social gatherings at or near pool.

Install a pool-side phone, preferably a cordless model, with emergency numbers programmed into speed dial.

Post CPR instructions and learn the procedures.

Keep a first aid kit pool side.

Do not use floatation devices as a substitute for supervision. Never allow a young child in a pool without an adult.

Never prop the gate to a pool area open.

Understand/learn the basics of lifesaving so that you can assist in a pool emergency.

Hands-on water safety skills will be taught at the Y's 60th Birthday Bash from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday, May 31.

Kim Rojas, assistant aquatics director at the Y, said, "The Y encourages all children and adults to learn how to swim. It's never too late. Basic swimming skills and water safety practices save lives every day.

"The Y youth swim lesson program is a unique program. We are a recreational swim program that not only teaches children how to swim but strives to teach the whole child."

Y swim lessons work on a little bit of everything, with the goal of mastering everything.

Rojas added, "Why teach this way? Every child is different. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. When working with children, confidence is a huge factor and if you are working on one thing at a time, it can be discouraging. We've found that a child may not be comfortable with front crawl, yet is a natural with back stroke. Unfortunately, if this child is participating in a program where they must master this stroke before progressing, the child often becomes frustrated and turned off by the water. The Y's program works on each of the different strokes simultaneously so that every child has a chance to work on something they are good at, building confidence and a love for the water."

The national Y swim lesson program is created with five major components, which are incorporated within each class level; personal safety, personal growth, stroke development, water games, and sports and rescue. Aquatics programs at the New Canaan YMCA include youth swim lessons for ages 6 months and older, adult swim lessons, open family swim, open adult lap, therapy swimming, and the Y's three competitive aquatics teams: the Caimans swim team, Aquianas synchronized swimming team, and the Whirlwind diving team. To ensure that everyone has an opportunity to participate, financial assistance is available to those in need to help cover the costs.

Registration for the summer session begins Wednesday, June 4, with priority online registration for current YMCA family members Monday, June 2. For information, call Rojas at 203-966-4528, ext. 143.