Pool safety can save children's lives this summer

May 31, 2011 3:14:56 PM PDT
Each year, several thousand people die by drowning, and more than one in five are children younger than fourteen.

Despite those grim statistics, the good news is that formal swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning by 88 percent in kids four or younger. Some good places to check for lessons are at the Red Cross or your local "Y".

Sue Ludzki teaches toddlers how to swim. Of all the things that can prevent drowning deaths in children, this is the most important one.

"We start at six months, mostly it's water acclimation, getting them used to water, making them comfortable," said Ludzki.

The Y's been teaching swimming lessons since 1910, and these older kids are more advanced, including 3 year old J.P. Mcgill.

"We have the saddle river behind our house and we just want to make sure that when he grows up he knows how to take care of himself, we have another one were going to enroll here," said James McGill, the boy's father.

Daniella Ashbahian has both her daughters in the classes.

"I'm very concerned about accidents in the pool, my in-laws have a pool, it's very important that my kids know what to do around a pool, that they shouldn't go in without a grownup," Ashbahian said.

That's the next important tip. Always have an adult at poolside any time a child's in the water. An undistracted adult.

The majority of fatalities happened when an adult is present, but is distracted by a cell phone or talking to somebody else.

If it's your pool, surround it with a fence that has a latch that's out of kids reach and a self closing lock. If small kids are around, use another fence to keep them out.

Families with young children, like the Flusche Family, should always have a standard life preserver on hand. They should also establish ground rules for their kids as well.

"I tell them that they shouldn't swim alone, there should be at least one other person, and that when it gets dark, I also encourage them not to be in the water," said Patricia Flusche.

Nearly 80 percent of drowning victims are boys, and kids ages one to four have the highest drowning rates. African American kids 5 to 14 have a drowning rate that's three times higher than white children. for more information on pool safety, CLICK HERE.