Georgia swim instructors battle child drowning statistics

ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) – It’s finally pool and lake weather, and swimming instructors are reminding parents of some simple skills that could save a little one’s life.

You look away for a few seconds and your baby falls into the pool.

Do they know what to do now? Do they know how to react?

It might be easy to think that if a child was struggling in the water around you, you might hear the struggle and spring into action, but experts say that’s rarely the case. Most drownings involving children are completely silent.

“A lot of times their reaction is to try to breathe. So their worry at that point isn’t necessarily going to call for help,” said Eddie Perez of the Aquakids swimming school in Texas.

In fact, statistics show that a child can drown in 20 seconds or less. That’s why swim schools, like Aqua-Tots, teach kids what to do if they fall into a pool with all their clothes on.

“Turn around immediately, get some fresh air,” said Malena Hankins of the Aqua-Tots swim school.

All of the swim schools I spoke to today emphasized the importance of enrolling your children in swimming lessons. The lessons cover simple tools, which could help a child save their own life, if they fall into a pool or lake and for some reason an adult is not around.

“I cringe when spring and summer start rolling in because I know I’m going to hear about a child dying in the water, in my happy place. It’s devastating,” Hankins said.

But adults should be there.

“You have to be present. You can’t be on the phone or reading,” Hankins said.

These stories may seem repetitive, these lessons may sound like skills you’ve heard a million times, but every year they save lives.

“It’s not about my swim school, it’s not about making money…you’re making a difference in these kids’ lives…you may have just saved a child “said Hankins.

The British Swim School in Atlanta also took time out during Memorial Day to offer advice to parents. To add:

1) It’s never too late to learn! Almost 30% of our students are adults. We have adult entry level students from teens to 70s.

2) Parents need to find a swim program that focuses on total water safety. Too many swim schools only teach how to get out of a pool. But as we know, accidents don’t always happen in a pool that kids can get out of. Our program first teaches water safety, then we progress to swimming skills. Our water safety goal teaches children to float on their backs. So even children too small to swim can learn to submerge, roll on their back and float. Then they can breathe and have a chance to be rescued.

3) Parents should start their children in formal swimming lessons as infants or toddlers (we start as young as 3 months old). For some reason there is a perception that swimming lessons only start when children are 4 or 5 years old, but this is a dangerous myth! Although a baby can’t really “swim”, he can acclimatize to water, learn to float and potentially save his own life (he always needs an adult to rescue him). Then, at the age of 4 or 5, they may already be safer swimmers.

Atlanta British Swimming School

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