SHOREVIEW, Minn. — Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start of summer in Minnesota.
It’s a big weekend for boating and swimming, and a great opportunity to remind parents about safety.
“This is going to be a busy weekend for us,” YMCA Aquatics Director Shannon Kinstler said.
Kinstler manages the YMCA pools in the metro.
She also hires all of the lifeguards and swim instructors who teach lessons.
“We are still hiring here at the YMCA and I know a lot of other places are,” Kinstler said.
“Parents are looking for swim lessons. People call almost every day looking for a place that can serve their kids because they know how important swim lessons are.”
Kinstler says the YMCA is now offering additional incentives to attract more lifeguards this summer, including a sign-on bonus.
"We are rolling out a brand new incentive plan where you get a $1,000 sign-on bonus and start out at $17.50 an hour," Kinstler said.
Her 18-year-old daughter, Addie Kinstler, will be among the lifeguard ranks this summer. She grew up taking swimming lessons at the YMCA, and now she's involved in teaching lessons and keeping younger kids safe.
"I grew up all around the water. I grew up learning lots about water safety,” Addie Kinstler said.
Like most kids, she just swam and had fun, and didn't think much of it, until she was 12 years old and had a close call with a friend who couldn't swim.
"I was the only one that saw. It was him and I just staring at each other as he struggled to surface out of the water and I just felt so helpless because I didn't know how to help him,” Addie said.
Her friend managed to get out of the water and that's when Addie decided to become a lifeguard and follow in her mother's footsteps.
“I feel important knowing that me being here could potentially save a life,” Addie says.
The YMCA encourages parents to practice good water safety habits this holiday weekend.
Here are some simple safety tips:
• Never swim alone.
• Lifeguarded beaches and pools provide another layer of safety besides parental supervision.
• Constantly and actively watch children by a responsible adult.
• Always keep young children or non-swimmers within arm's reach of parent or guardian.
• Remember inexperienced or non-swimmers should wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket.
• Be wary of inflatables because a poke or blown valve can turn into a dangerous situation quickly for a child relying on it to float.
• Don't engage in breath-holding activities.
• Don't jump in the water to save a friend who is struggling in any water. Instead, use a long object to reach for them and pull them to safety.
• Enroll children and non-swimmers in water safety or swim lessons.
• Be mindful of the hazards of backyard pools with standing water.
• Install barriers around the pool like a fence.
• Know CPR.
• Provide constant supervision.
• Make sure there is a way to climb out of the pool if it's too tall.
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