Free water safety camp for Fresno kids aims to prevent drownings

Dozens of Fresno kids have a rare chance to get all wet this week during potentially life-saving lessons for a community in need.

Instructors kicked off a water safety camp with a refreshing swim on a hot day. About 50 kids jumped in the Romain Park pool for lessons in treading water, staying close to the side, and the basics of water safety: the ABCD’s of staying safe.

“‘A’ stands for adult,” said Matthew Barnes of the ZAC Foundation. “Never swim without an adult.”

‘B’ stands for barriers between kids and water, ‘C’ stands for classes to get better in the water, and ‘D’ is for drains.

The national ZAC Foundation launched in 2008 after its founders’ son got stuck in a drain and drowned. They wanted to make sure other kids avoided that fate by getting familiar with pools.

“It’s so important for inner city kids who don’t have access necessarily to a pool to learn how to swim so when they go out to the rivers and the lakes, they know what to do,” said Diane Carbray, the president of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Fresno County, which partnered with the ZAC Foundation for the program.

The Centers for Disease Control says drowning is the number one cause of accidental death among kids between one and four. It’s second for kids between five and 14. And the risk is highest among minority kids, which is why the ZAC foundation brings safety lessons to neighborhoods where those kids live, like here in Fresno.

“It’s so much better when they know how to perform and how to get themselves out of trouble just by treading water or, just the simple fact of getting your face wet can be traumatic for kids so when they’re this young, and they’re learning it now, you have a whole lifetime to swim,” Carbray said.

These classes target kids between the ages of five and nine, and they include basic lessons in CPR and the Heimlich maneuver.

The camp runs through Thursday, and you can still sign up your kids at the Boys & Girls Club’s Zimmerman club or the Fink White club, or by calling (559) 266-3117