The mercury’s rising all around the North Suncoast and that means more time around the water.

Pools, coastline beaches, lakes – all watery escapes from the heat of an approaching spring will continue to see an increased volume of users ready to take a dip.

While most of these escapes and excursions will result in nothing but fun and good times, accidents can happen.

That’s why the Clearwater-based YMCA of the Suncoast want to help make sure children and adults know how to be safe in and around the water and what to do in the event of an emergency. The YMCA’s 2018 “Safety Around Water” awareness campaign is being offered at all its locations, in Hernando, Pasco and Pinellas counties this month.

Dates vary at participating YMCA of the Suncoast locations, and the four-day series is aimed to help children ages 3 to 12, as well as families, learn basic swimming skills and practice safety habits while hanging out around the water. The “Safety Around Water” program is a joint effort with the Tampa Bay Rays as the two organizations strive to be leaders in drowning prevention and swim lessons.

Statistics from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that drowning remains the leading cause of unintended injury-related death for children ages 1 to 5. It’s the second leading cause of accidental death for all children under 14. Research reflects that participation in formal swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning by 88 percent among children ages 1 to 4.

The YMCA is conducting “Safety Around Water” nationwide during Spring Break. Pasco County residents can take part in the program at the James P. Gills Family YMCA, in Trinity, from March 19-22. Locations in North Pinellas, in East Lake and Palm Harbor, will hold their lessons March 26-29. Hernando County YMCAs will present their programs March 12-15.

The campaign is open to all in the community and YMCA membership is not required, however pre-registration is required because of limited space.

According to, “Safety Around Water” programs are designed for participants to learn how to perform a sequenced set of skills over eight lessons of 40 minutes each. A typical session includes exercises to help children adjust to being in the water, instructions on what to do if someone needs help in the water, the teaching of skill sets children can use if they unexpectedly find themselves in the water and other fun activities that reinforce skills.

Families may register to take part in the “Safety Around Water” campaign by going to or calling local YMCA facilities.