Swimming experts advise on children's water safety

Swimming experts advise on children's water safety
Updated: Jun. 13, 2018 at 10:55 PM CDT
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HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - Sadly, there is another drowning to report. Olympic skier Bode Miller's 19-month-old daughter died Saturday.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children between the ages of 1 and 4 have the highest drowning rates with most of those occurring in swimming pools at home. Local swim experts want to emphasize the importance of pool safety and explain the signs of drowning.

Swimming instructors at the Huntsville Aquatic Center said it's best to get kids into swim lessons as early as possible.

"Swimming is so much fun. Everybody wants to do it. Everybody wants to be in the water, and I want her to have that fun experience but it's very unnerving if they don't know what they are doing," said Joyce Long.

Long and her husband say it was important for them to put their daughter, Lillian, in swim lessons before their family vacation.

"She'll still have to wear a vest or something in the ocean until she gets better.," said Long.

Besides the fear of drowning in the back of parents' minds, many don't want their child to be afraid of the water either.

"I just wanted to eliminate the fear factor that goes along with swimming. It's a fantastic sport but it is dangerous and can be dangerous if you don't have the skills and ability to deal with the situations in the water," said Charlie Mac.

"It's always sad to hear about a child drowning. It doesn't matter if it's here or in another state. The only thing that we can do in our field is to provide opportunities for parents to give to their child to lessen the chances of drowning," said aquatic instructor Kimberly Putman.

Signs of drowning include:

  • Can’t call for help
  • Weak swim stroke
  • Bobbing up and down in the water
  • Gasping for air
  • Hair in the eyes
  • Hand waving or arms out to the sides
  • Swimmers floating face down

They can go from a distressed swimmer who could possibly make it to safety and call for help to actively drowning. "Most of the time they can't scream for help," Putman added.

Huntsville Aquatic Center starts teaching swim lessons as young as six months old to teach the parents how to get their kids more familiar with the water. Here is the link to sign up.

The swim lessons are also helping the little swimmers to feel more independent so that they enjoy summer even more.

"Keeping my hands cupped so I can go faster!" said James Young.

"She's definitely having a great time not having someone hovering over her all of the time," Long said.

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