The Kenosha Safety Around Water Coalition will host its inaugural Safety Around Water event on Saturday along Kenosha’s beautiful lakefront near Third Avenue and 54th Street.

There will be demonstrations and presentations focused on Lake Michigan and water safety.

In October we observe National Fire Prevention Week, conduct fire drills and learn about fire safety. In April, Wisconsin conducts a statewide Tornado drill to prepare for severe weather. May is Water Safety Month and we hope this annual event will bring awareness and education to help keep you and your family safe in and around water.

The event will run from 10 a.m to 2 p.m. and will offer life jacket giveaways, life jacket fittings, throw ring demonstrations, a live mock water rescue, a capsized boat demonstration, a Great Lakes Safety presentation, a Safety Around Water presentation and a family water safety pledge.

Water safety experts will be available from the U.S. Coast Guard, village of Somers Fire Department, city of Kenosha Police and Fire departments, Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project, Kenosha Community Sailing Center, Kenosha Sports Fishing and Conservation, Kenosha County Health Department, Kenosha County Dive Team, Wisconsin DNR and the Kenosha YMCA. The groups will answer questions, offer education and provide materials for you and your family to be safe around water this summer.

“Our Wisconsin waterways can be a great place for rest, relaxation and recreation if treated safely and with respect,” said Ben Andersen, Somers fire lieutenant and team leader of the Kenosha County Dive Team.

The Kenosha Safety Around Water Coalition’s mission is to create a healthy respect and safe enjoyment of water in the Kenosha area through education and advocacy. The focus this year is on Lake Michigan safety. This event is one result of the coalition’s efforts.

“We started this by trying to get life rings installed on the North Pier and it has become a total community effort to prevent drownings in Lake Michigan,” Kenosha Alderman David Bogdala said.

Drowning is the leading cause of accidental death for children ages 1-4 and is the second leading cause of death for ages 1-14. Forty-two people drowned in Lake Michigan last year alone, five in our own community. Still, talk about water safety is not as prevalent as other safety topics.

Following the example of fire safety and tornado safety education, there is more that we can do as a community to prevent drowning.

The city of Kenosha has taken important steps by passing an ordinance making pier jumping illegal, placing additional signage, and installing rescue rings. Now it is up to us as a community to educate our children.

“Attending this event is a great place to start that conversation with your kids,” said YMCA Aquatics Director, Beth Volbrecht.

Tyler Cochran, Kenosha Police Department safety officer added, “Speak to your kids and keep tabs on where they are going. Speak with them about others pressuring them into dangerous behaviors.”

Together we can help keep our kids safe around water.

The winners of the “Drowning is Preventable” poster contest will be announced at the May 11 event, and there will be an opportunity to enter into a prize raffle to win Tall Ships Sail Away tickets, YMCA swimming lessons, and other great prizes!

It’s going to be an afternoon of the community coming together around an important topic. We invite you to join us and join the conversation.

Cindy Altergott is Kenosha YMCA executive director.